What practical initiatives is the Government taking in preparation for Rugby World Cup 2011 to protect the environment and New Zealand’s important “clean, green” brand?
Firstly, we are putting in place new measures to manage freedom camping, in partnership with councils. The package includes standardised signage, a website for informing visitors where they can and cannot camp nationally, as well as practical enforcement measures, with a $200 instant fine. The second initiative is a Love NZ public-place recycling programme, whereby more than 2,000 new bins are to be installed around Rugby World Cup venues and popular visitor spots. This is aimed at recycling 10,000 tonnes of glass, plastic, and aluminium containers that would otherwise go to landfills. Although both these initiatives have been spurred by the Rugby World Cup, they are good, sensible, and practical long-term environmental programmes that will pay benefits for New Zealand.
What response has there been from councils, particularly those in high-tourism areas, and from the tourism industry to the proposed new freedom camping policy?
There has been almost unanimous endorsement of the Government’s approach. Councils in Queenstown, Coromandel, Kaikōura, Nelson, and Marlborough have been particularly strong in their support, but Local Government New Zealand has also endorsed the approach. There have also been very positive comments from the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Freedom Camping Forum. There is wide acknowledgment that there is a problem, and that the Government’s response will let responsible freedom campers get out and enjoy New Zealand’s great outdoors, while giving our councils the tools to be able to properly protect our environment.