Byron Shire Council has asked the NSW government for changes to the law regulating street camping.
The Council wrote to the minister for local government, Don Page, on Tuesday asking for an amendment to the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) to allow Council to regulate street camping.
The legislation currently prevents councils from prohibiting street camping, because councils cannot regulate the use of vehicles in a road or road related area.
‘Tourism in the Byron Shire needs to be managed appropriately and in a way that is sustainable,’ Byron Council’s governance manager Ralph James said.
‘We welcome visitors to the Byron Shire, and we want people to enjoy their time here, but at the same time we have to protect the community’s amenity, as well those aspects of the region that make Byron Bay worth visiting to begin with.’
In a local radio news interview yesterday, Minister Page indicated the state government would be willing to consider closing the gap that currently exists in its legislation, which prevents local governments from regulating the use of motor vehicles in a road or road-related area.
Mr James said the state government had already responded to requests from Sydney City Council to amend the relevant section of the act.
‘Amendments to the act were passed last year to help the Sydney City Council stop the roadside sale of vehicles,’ he said.
In introducing that bill, the minister for finance and services, Greg Pearce, said that its intention was to prevent ‘inconvenience or loss of amenity to nearby residents and businesses’.
Mr James said the same issue applied in Byron Bay with regards to campers parked in residential streets.
‘Generally the profile of campers in Byron Shire includes younger travellers, often backpackers. The vehicles involved range from specifically designed campervans to sedans,’ he said.
Council also wants to see liability for street camping infringements rest with the registered owner of offending vehicles, in this case often a hire company.
Currently owners can use a statutory declaration to avoid a fine, passing the responsibility on to someone who may have left the country without a forwarding address.
This would be mean that overseas travellers could not simply leave the country without paying their fines.