Pay or Go Away: No Free Camping in Byron Shire
Byron Shire Council continues to grapple with illegal camping. Each night it is estimated there are approximately 120 – 160 campervans in car parks around the Shire, particularly near the beach, as well as in residential streets
Byron Shire Council’s Director Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt, said illegal camping is an issue all-year round but it gets worse during the school holidays and summer months.
The fines for illegal camping range from an on-the-spot fine of $110 to a maximum of $2,200.
“For significant breaches, or for repeat offenders, Council will not hesitate to issue Court Attendance Notices which have a maximum penalty of $110,000,” Ms Burt said.
“Residents are sick and tired of people illegally camping where they like, often leaving their mess behind, setting up make-shift kitchens in parks and on footpaths and using the area as a toilet as well,” Ms Burt said.
“Recently people were illegally camping in the dunes at Belongil and the mess they left was disgusting.
“Staff were cleaning up faeces, toilet paper, domestic waste, tents and furniture.
“There is also the added problem of illegal camping in bushland around Broken Head and Brunswick Heads and foolish behaviour has resulted in recent bushfires at Tallow Beach and Belongil.
“In dry weather a fire can quickly and easily get out of control threatening not just nearby properties, but people’s lives as well.
“We have enforcement patrols working seven days a week driving around and fining people, many of whom are overseas visitors,” she said.
“Council puts a lot of resources into this area and our staff work shifts starting at 4am with the specific aim of targeting illegal campers in the hope they will spread the word that it is not allowed in the Byron Shire.
“Social media makes our job more difficult because mobile apps can promote new spots for camping and these change constantly.
There are 15 legal camp grounds in the Byron Shire and information about their locations is widely available on the internet.
There is also information about camping areas at the Byron Visitor Centre.
“Byron Shire Council has raised the issue of illegal camping with campervan companies, and the Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Police are aware of the problem,” Ms Burt said.
“Council is in discussions with these organisations to develop strategies to manage the problem of illegal camping,” she said.
Byron Shire residents can report illegal camping by going to Council’s website, www.byron.nsw.gov.au, and filling out the online ‘Report It’ form.