New site for Otter Rotters

Cllr Claire Wright with the Otter Rotters team.

Cllr Claire Wright with the Otter Rotters team. - Credit: Archant

Community green waste recycling group Otter Rotters’ new site has finally opened in Bowd after doubts about the group’s operational future.

The team celebrated the opening with parliamentary hopeful and Ottery St Mary’s district and county representative Claire Wright at Old Woods Farm.

New government fees threatened the not-for-profit organisation, but it has reworked its model and continues to operate – despite higher costs and a ‘huge strain’ on its volunteers.

Director Mandy Jennings said: “Failure to get the site open on Monday morning would have resulted in the suspension of collections, which is something we have been desperately trying to avoid.

“This small, hard-won step towards reinstating community composting in East Devon is a move in the right direction, although the enhanced fee structure for permits does mean we need several sites instead of the one larger site, which we established in 2006.”

Otter Rotters supports learning-disabled individuals and disadvantaged people, offering them a gateway back into the workplace.

It has provided green waste kerbside collections across East Devon for 15 years, but faced ‘exorbitant’ government fees that forced other, similar groups to close.

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The opening of the Bowd site marks the end of a five-year battle to secure planning permission.

Mandy said the 500-tonnes limit on on-farm composting of green waste reflected the relatively low-level supervision the approved sites needed.

She described the move to slash this cap to 60 tonnes per site – with anything above taking the fees up to the next band – as ‘illogical and counter-productive’.

“We are not against paying fees, but they should reflect a sensible cost based on risk,” she said. “The tier structure of the fees has inevitably forced our costs up and put a huge, sustained strain on the volunteer.”

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