Otter Rotters, which covers Ottery, as well as many other villages across East Devon has operated a green waste door to door collection for many years, avoiding compost ending up at landfill – which is environmentally unfriendly, undesirable and expensive.

Roger Croad, portfolioholder for environment admitted at the full council meeting in December that he was not aware that these plans could put Otter Rotters out of business.

He claimed that community composting groups being forced to close would not increase the amount of garden waste going to landfill.

Devon County Council’s press release doesn’t give the whole picture and the new proposal doesn’t allow for the costs incurred from Otter Rotters’ kerbside collection arrangement, in addition to the costs of running the composting sites.  Most other groups don’t provide a door to door collection scheme.

It was with these extra costs in mind that East Devon District Council and Devon County Council agreed to pay Otter Rotters the green waste payments under contract.

EDDC cannot replicate this service without incurring substantial set up costs and running costs.

DCC’s impact assessment is vague and it appears that the council has not considered the cost and implications of significantly more green waste going to landfill if the scheme ceases to operate.

Otter Rotters is extremely good value for money – something which is not reflected in Devon County Council’s press release.

The service covers a very wide area with the potential for expansion.  Collections are made at: Ottery St Mary, Awliscombe, Axminster, Broadclyst, Broadhembury, Buckerell, Budleigh Salterton, Colestocks, Colyford, Colyton, Cranbook, Dunkeswell, Exmouth, Feniton, Honiton, Lympstone, Musbury, Newton Poppleford, Ottery St Mary, Payhembury, Sidbury, Sidford, Sidmouth, Talaton, Tipton St John, West Hill and Whimple.

Finally, but importantly, Otter Rotters is staffed by volunteers who tend to have seen the harsher side of life and struggle to find employment in the conventional workplace.

The volunteers value working with Otter Rotters very highly and say that it has given them a sense of purpose and direction in their lives.

If these plans are approved and Otter Rotters folds, its volunteers will be devastated.

I very much hope that Devon County Council will revise its plans and allow for the cost implications in running such a service as Otter Rotters, including the kerbside collection element and set those costs against the very likely outcome that very much more garden waste will end up at landfill.

Please scrap the existing proposals and work with composters on any new affordable credit rate. 

I look forward to hearing from you.
Claire Wright
Devon County Councillor
Ottery St Mary Rural Ward

Pic:  March 2014, with the Otter Rotters team at their Woods Farm composting site.