Should illegal campers be fined? POLL RESULTS
Update, Friday 11.15am: THERE was a strong response to our poll regarding whether or not illegal campers should be fined.
In fact exactly 3,818 people gave their opinion.
And the results are overwhelmingly that illegal campers should be fined.
In fact 65% in total.
Of those who disagreed with the fines, it was a paltry 14% with more people, 19%, undecided.
Update, Thursday 12.15pm: PEOPLE looking for free or cheap camping are bypassing popular Byron Bay because it is an "unwelcoming place", according to travellers.
It comes as Byron Shire Council says it is struggling to tackle the issue of people illegally parking in their campervans.
Up to 160 people per night are getting a "free ride", says the council.
But on The Northern Star's Facebook page, many readers said it was time to embrace free camping on the North Coast.
"Byron Bay is bypassed by grey nomads in their full self-contained motorhomes because it's seen as such an unwelcoming place," Gina George wrote.
"Many Towns are being smart and providing safe zones for 24 or 48 hour stop overs.
"Wake Up Byron Bay … or are you so yuppie these days you sniff at our contribution by way of supermarket, cafe and fuel spending?"
Matthew Vickers wrote: "Bring on more free camping! Who owns the world, anyway? The hotel/caravan park industry?"
Karen Lee said it was "bloody ridiculous" how much caravan parks charged for powered and unpowered sites.
But others said it was time to crack down on the illegal campers.
Minnie Morrison said: "They think it's ok. They get a fine, don't pay it and the only thing that happens is they can't come back on holidays. They should be made to pay the fine before they go home."
Phil Bowman said the "simple solution" was to "get the cops to tow these unwanted and unsightly vans away", while Sharon Lee's message was "stop bludging and pay like most others do".
Update, Thursday 10am: WE'VE had lots of interest regarding your views on how campers who don't pay for a site in the Byron Shire area should be dealt with.
Take our poll and tell us what you think.
Should we fine van campers parked illegally?
This poll ended on 05 October 2017.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Today, Thursday 5am: EACH night, an estimated 120-160 campervans illegally camp around the Byron Shire.
Byron Shire Council continues to grapple with the complex issue, with campers setting up in carparks near the beach as well as in residential streets.
Byron Shire Council's Director Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt, said illegal camping was 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 $2200.
"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 a 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 was widely available on the internet.
There was 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 the council's website: www.byron.nsw.gov.au, and filling out the online 'Report It' form.