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Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says she is confident that the work undertaken by a combined central and local government working group into freedom camping will have positive benefits for the Central Otago area and beyond.

“The working party, established in October, has been looking at how freedom camping is managed and regulated, as numbers increase and camping sites decrease.

“Just six weeks after its formation the working party has a number of priority actions underway.

“These include the development of a guidance document for all councils on freedom camping management, including good practice around regulatory design.

“Better communication of messages targeted at visitors is another priority with cooperation from the Responsible Camping Forum helping to provide consistent information to high risk freedom campers.

“One of the issues for freedom campers is the mixed messages that they get from various councils, with different regulations applying in different areas.

“A national freedom camping regulation dataset – a one stop shop for freedom campers – is also being developed to address this.

“It will help campers identify legal places to stay throughout the country and help authorities to co-ordinate their approaches.

“A pilot is already underway with Thames Coromandel and Queenstown Lakes District councils to source accurate freedom camping data from across those two regions to combine into a central source.

“Tourism is such an important part of this electorate and I have been aware of the issues around freedom camping for many years.

"I am therefore pleased to see that the working group has made progress. They have put real thought into the issues which face many communities, ensuring that freedom camping harms are reduced while visitors enjoy an improved experience.

“Government support through the $12 million Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund is also a crucial link, with funding for toilets in towns like Tarras, Geraldine and Tekapo supporting local communities.

"I understand the working group will continue its efforts around freedom camping into 2017/18 and I look forward to more progress on this issue.” ends

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