FREE RIDERS: Vanpackers in the car park adjacent the Rails Hotel in Byron Bay.
FREE RIDERS: Vanpackers in the car park adjacent the Rails Hotel in Byron Bay. Christian Morrow

Sorry, no free camping for vanpackers in this town

BYRON Shire Council has poured cold water on recent suggestions that a dedicated free vanpacker park be set up as a way of dealing with the problem of illegal camping.

Shannon Burt, director Sustainable Environment and Economy, said the council has, on numerous occasions, discussed the concept of providing an area where people in campervans can park overnight for free.

The most recent review was undertaken in 2015 when the council examined potential sites including the Cavanbah Centre and the Byron foreshore and for various reasons these sites were consequently considered as not appropriate and due to questionable viability the matter was not pursued further.

Ms Burt said there were already a number of caravan parks for people to use should they wish to overnight in the Byron Shire, and some have vacancies even in peak season.

"The problem is many people in campervans do not want to stay in caravan parks, they want to camp near the ocean," she said.

There is no available land for a free or low cost van park and camping area on or near any of the beaches in the Byron Shire.

"Providing free or low-cost accommodation for people travelling in campervans, and developing and maintaining this sort of area, is not something that is currently being considered by the council," she said.

"Such facilities would inevitably lead to ratepayers having to subsidise the establishment and operating costs and our ratepayers have made it clear that they believe that they already pay a high price for Byron's vibrant visitor economy.

"There are regular and free RMS rest stops along the Pacific Highway and these are often used by travellers who do not want to pay for a site at a caravan park in the Byron Shire."

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