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To: The Rt Hon Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Stop Community Composting Being Crippled by Disproportionate Government Agency Fees
Dear Owen Paterson MP
Green waste composting is an important part of any rural area. For 13 years Otter Rotters, with its learning disabled teams, has been playing a vital role for East Devon. That is under threat because the Environment Agency is now charging fees geared up to big companies, which are unaffordable for a community-based non-profit like Otter Rotters. The Municipal Waste Strategy Plan for Devon says "Smaller scale facilities which follow the Proximity Principle will be preferred" but this is impossible if the Environment Agency is not allowed to vary fees to represent the smaller scale of community schemes.
Please urgently revise the exemption ceiling of 60 tonnes or introduce a intermediate fee that does not exclude community groups on the grounds of affordability.
Why is this important?
Otter Rotters provides supported volunteer, training and job opportunities for learning disabled and disadvantaged people.
Community Composting Groups used to operate under an exemption. The exemption ceiling for the new permit regime has been set too low and community groups have been forced to stop their operations whilst calling for a review.
Environment Agency stated in April 2012
“ we recognised that a significant number of composting operations were likely to be disproportionately affected by the changes. Such operations would move from exempt status to full bespoke permitting as they could not take advantage of our light-touch standard rules approach” and bespoke fees were reduced but not to a level that would enable the community schemes to be able to afford the application process.
Community Composting is about local communities composting their green waste locally. The introduction of this permit regime has meant that green waste is now being transported out of area and a disposal fee having to be paid to commerical operators. It will reverse the trend of green waste being diverted from landfill sites if Otter Rotters is forced to give up their composting site resulting in job and training opportunity losses for its learning disabled team.