by Caitlan Charles
FREEDOM camping has been causing issues in the Clarence Valley for a long time now.
While council says it's difficult to control and regulate, they are now moving to create stricter rules around freedom camping.
At the October Clarence Valley Council meeting, councillors will vote on whether to implement a trial freedom camping enforcement program in Yamba over the Christmas and January period and during Easter.
If it is voted through next week, council will allocate $20,000 in the 2017/18 budget for establishment costs.
However one Diggers Camp resident said the freedom camping policy should be trialled across the whole Valley.
"A point of my deputation is not only the impact on homes, but also the cost burden associated with an increasing recreational population,” she said.
"Pushing unregulated camping from Yamba to other areas will increase the problems there. The entire Clarence Coast has to be included in this program to regulate camping to avoid transient havens and drug dealing societies and to send a message to the changing demographic that the Clarence Coast is not a land of uncontrolled freedom.”
The council plan is to trial the enforcement program at Turners Beach, Hickey Island, Ocean St, Covent Beach, Pacific Pde, Pippie Beach, Yamba Main Beach, Green Point, Angourie Point, Spookys and the Blue Pools car park.
It is council's position that the best way to enforce the new rules is to implement parking restrictions. Parking would not be permitted from midnight until 5am. This time frame was suggested to avoid inconvenience for local surfers.
The Diggers Camp resident suggested the Minnie Water Caravan Park be added to the list to help pay for the upgrade of the "dangerous” Wooli Rd.
"This is a 35km road with four coastal villages and several council and national park camping areas,” she said.
The resident said she was asking council to look at the whole coastal region, not just Yamba, as focusing on one area would make it worse in other coastal towns.
Clarence Valley Council said it did not believe regulations would eliminate freedom camping but it was a move in the right direction to control the issue. However there are some negatives. Council noted that a survey in 2015 found the daily spend per free camper equated to $76 at the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council area.