Local Laws Officers are taking a zero-tolerance approach to illegal camping in Noosa amid growing community frustration.
Council adopted an education-first approach in January in an effort to make campers aware that camping on streets and in carparks, particularly at Noosa Spit, was illegal.
But Local Laws Manager Paul Kirkley said it’s now time for a hardline approach as travellers continue to ignore the rules, often leaving a mess in their wake.
“The community is becoming tired of the pressure illegal campers are putting on our streets and carparks,
It’s often not just rubbish they’re leaving behind, frequently they’re using our parks and gardens as toilets,” he said.
Mayor Clare Stewart said the officers are fed up with illegal campers ignoring the warnings.
“I have had discussions with residents and understand their concerns, and we share those concerns and our staff are doing all they can to curb the illegal activity,” she said.
In 2022, officers issued 212 fines for illegal camping and the issue accounted for about a third of the total complaints relating to Local Laws in Noosa.
“We have already issued over 50 fines in the first two months this year,” Mr Kirkley said.
“We have limited powers to move people on but given the community’s growing impatience and the health risks associated with illegal camping, we are starting to issue more fines on the spot,” he said.
Community Services Director Kerri Contini said compliance officers are doing their best to control illegal campers.
“Illegal camping is a significant problem in many coastal areas across Queensland and it’s no different in Noosa.
“With no move on powers, it is challenging for compliance officers to stop the illegal overnight camping,” she said.
“It’s important that the community understands that someone staying in an area during the day is not considered illegal camping, ” Ms Contini said.
“However, under the Local Law, it’s an offence to stay, camp or sleep overnight in a vehicle or other mobile accommodation, tent or sleeping bag.”
“Part of our plan is to continue the early morning patrols, particularly in the Noosa Spit area and our staff will have no hesitation issuing fines of $287 to those ignoring the advice,” Ms Contini said.
“Education is a key part of what we do by letting them know about our wonderful caravan parks and making them aware that it is illegal to stay overnight,” Ms Contini said..
When resourcing allows, Ms Contini said compliance officers would visit high profile sites in the afternoons to let campers know it is illegal to stay overnight and provide them with an informative Fact Sheet.
“Our staff juggle a range of compliance issues, such as dog attacks, parking, dogs off leash and many more, so we have to monitor a lot across the shire,” she said.