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Free camping crackdown will pay for itself with fines

One of the best free camp sites in Australia this morning, Sunday, 1 May 2011.  The only problem with it is that it is on the northern end of Sunshine Beach in Noosa National Park, at least 500 metres from the nearest public loo. Plenty of laws against this, but no enforcement at all.
Contributed Photo.
One of the best free camp sites in Australia this morning, Sunday, 1 May 2011. The only problem with it is that it is on the northern end of Sunshine Beach in Noosa National Park, at least 500 metres from the nearest public loo. Plenty of laws against this, but no enforcement at all. Contributed Photo. Contributed

A CRACKDOWN on free camping in the Clarence Valley will aim to recover its set up costs through fines it collects.

On Tuesday the Clarence Valley Council voted to support the implementation of a trial freedom camping enforcement program over the Christmas holidays and possibly the Easter break.

Point five of the council motion was to "seek to have the setup costs recouped through penalties during the course of the trial”.

The council agreed to set aside $20,000 to set up the program in the 2017/18 budget.

Cr Debrah Novak quizzed the council's director environment, planning and community, Des Schroder, about the set up of the program.

Mr Schroder said he had learnt from discussion with Byron Bay council staff, where a similar program was in place, they had been able to recoup 80% of costs from the fines collected.

But he noted that even after the council blitz on camping, there were still problems in the region.

Mr Schroder said one of the tasks of the rangers would be to redestribute campers around the region.

"The rangers will be saying to campers there are other areas in the Valley where they can go,” he said.

"There are other areas we can put on social media and distribute the tourism load.”

Cr Greg Clancy asked what provisions would be made for homeless people.

"The procedure is we fine everyone,” Mr Schroder said. "You can't distinguish if someone is sleeping rough.

"The message is don't sleep on the edge of the beaches.”

Cr Andrew Baker praised the work of the committee looking into free camping.

"They've provided definitions of the problem, which will limit the exposure of the council to expenditure,” he said.

"We should allow the trial to go ahead and wish it well.”



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