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Freedom Camping and Le Roys Bush - public meeting Tuesday 5 Feb 2019 at NBYC, Birkenhead Wharf 7.30pm

The following is a draft opinion piece initiated by a local resident and LRB volunteer. A number of members have expressed their support for this article while one member has expressed support for the Council proposal provided appropriate controls are put in place. Some people would be ok if the proposal was for overnight camping for self contained vehicles only. But they believe reports from other parts of NZ about irresponsible non-self contained campers are a good reason to reject the Council's current proposals.

Your feedback is invited to LeRoysBush@gmail.com - let's hear your views.  You can also find out more on the Council's website - but be warned that there are two items about Little Shoal Bay - one shows camping is prohibited on the harbour side of the road at Little Shoal Bay - the other shows Dudding Park as blue with 6 spaces beside the bowling club.  We are waiting for Council to clarify whether this means that campers will be able to pitch tents on the playing field.

We are also concerned that Council is by-passing the Little Shoal Bay and Le Roys Bush Management Plan processes.

The Birkenhead Residents Association, the Little Shoal Bay Protection Society and the Le Roys Bush Management Committee will be holding a public meeting on Tuesday 5 Feb at 7.30 pm. We hope to see you there. Please put this in your diary - the location will be announced shortly.

Here are some views on the proposal. :
  • As you may be aware, Auckland Council is in the process of consulting about a by-law to control freedom camping in many areas of Auckland but to allow freedom camping in specified locations - including at Dudding Park - part of the Le Roys Bush complex - that includes Le Roys Bush, Little Shoal Bay Reserve and Lutners Reserve. This area is controlled by the Little Shoal Bay and Le Roys Bush Management Plan in conjunction with the Le Roys Bush Management Committee
  • The proposed plan for Dudding Park allows for 6 spaces for vehicles which are NOT self-contained - ie they don't have facilities for showers and toilets - meaning that the occupants will have to use the one toilet located in the parking space next to the tennis court. OR as happens in other parts of NZ, they are likely to "go in the bush"
  • Dudding Park is right next to one of the largest kauri in Le Roys Bush - it is currently unprotected and regrettably the Seaview Track goes right over its roots. There are also kauri spread throughout the bush in Lutners Reserve including in the Maori Gardens area.  Unless there is a serious increase in education and enforcement, there is a risk that visitors will go stomping through this reserve trampling regenerating natives and potentially spreading kauri dieback from other areas. 
  • There has been no consultation by Council with the Le Roys Bush Management Committee about introducing freedom camping into the LRB & LSB Reserves.  As outlined in this article by Tony Holman the Council is in the process of doing away with the current approach to management plans (see Freedom Camping - NZ Herald 2018-12-28
  • Some local residents are concerned that as there may be inadequate funding available for this programme, there will be very limited controls and large numbers of campers will turn up. As the first free camping site north of the airport, there is the potential for dozens of vans with no toilet facilities to turn up for the night with the potential for people overflowing across Dudding Park in tents. The Council map is very ambiguous about what is proposed.- go to the Council website http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2018/12/have-your-say-on-auckland-councils-proposed-freedom-camping-bylaw/   and then navigate through to the page where non-self-contained camping is allowed in Dudding Park (don't be confused by the page where it says that freedom camping is prohibited in Little Shoal Bay). The map currently shows all of Dudding Park playing field as light blue and the carpark between the tennis court and the bowling club as dark blue.  We have asked for clarification on this but have received no reply. 

  • Council is not obliged to provide freedom camping at any particular site so long as they designate some sites for freedom camping.  If you have any comments or feedback on Council's freedom camping proposals, please let us know by emailing us at LeRoysBush@gmail.com.  
  • Come to a public meeting being coordinated by the Birkenhead Residents Association to learn more about the proposal and how we can prevent this risk being introduced adjacent to Le Roys Bush.  Some members initially comment that they are sympathetic to the principle of freedom camping - but in discussion they realised that the proposal for Little Shoal Bay's Dudding Park has not been properly thought through and will introduce unacceptable risks with no benefits.
You are encouraged to reply with a strong NO to the current proposal for freedom camping in Little Shoal Bay.

If you think some camping in Little Shoal Bay is a good idea, then please consider that it should be properly introduced with proper controls, with tourists paying their way (not at a cost to the ratepayer and the community), with a decent booking system so we don't get crowds arriving late at night with no adequate method to clear them away). And with adequate controls to ensure that an unruly percentage of campers don't damage the kauri and regenerating bush by Dudding park.

Little Shoal Bay is an important amenity for the local community.  The carparks are to capacity when there is an event on - such as the Kids in Parks programme. We have had a lot of intensive development thrust on us from above without proper planning - the Le Roys Bush stream is being polluted and eroded at a high rate. The kokopu pools are being silted up and there are only a few of the previous hundreds of banded kokopu left.  

It is not acceptable for Council and Government to impose intensification on communities without proper planning.  With the high cost of living we have people who choose to live in buses or who can't afford housing.  Giving away sensitive community reserves to freedom camping is unnecessary and inappropriate. 

We recommend you say NO to the current freedom camping proposal.

NOTE: the public meeting date and location have not yet been finalised - the likely date is 5 February.
Please wait to make you submission to Council until you have had the chance to attend the February meeting and to get more information.
Council will also be holding a drop in at the Northcote War Memorial Hall on 13 Feb.  

Remember - submissions close on 18 Feb - so remember to reply with your "No" before then.

Note - we have had one reply which supports the Council proposal in Dudding Park. 

PS - you may be interested to view this episode of the TVNZ series Gutsful about freedom camping in Taranaki:  https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/gutsful/episodes/s2016-e1
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