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Charity gets 25 year lease on national park

Saturday, 6 April 2024 11:19

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Garden Waste (Image courtesy: Alexandra Mannius on Unsplash)

The composting scheme has "cascade of benefits" to wider community

A charity in South Brent which runs a community composting scheme on Dartmoor National Park land is to have its lease extended by 25 years.

Sustainable South Brent can produce up to 30 tonnes of compost at its peak for local gardens and allotments and makes an income to support other charitable projects in the parish.

Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) has been renting the 0.1 hectare site at Manor Mills to the charity for 13 years at a cost of £1 per year, after its efforts to sell the land fell through.

The current lease runs to March 3031 but Sustainable South Brent (SSB) wants this extended as it is looking to attract funding to invest in the site.

It says that the introduction of garden waste charges by South Hams Council has caused an increase in the use of the community compost centre. It wants to make improvements including the rejuvenation of the centre, updated arrangements for its management and establishing a new home compost demonstration scheme.

To secure funding, the charity says it needs to be able to show it is here to stay and doesn’t believe the eight years remaining on the existing lease is sufficient time for potential grant providers.

Trustee of SSB Ross Kennerley said it was a “strong, growing charity” committed to making South Brent resilient on environmental, social and economic levels.

It currently turns surplus waste from local gardens into compost.

Mr Kennerley said the work of the charity cascaded to the wider community as it supported 18 projects including solar panels for the school, school garden and home energy advice.

Members of the national park were recommended to approve the long lease to ensure a continued “community-focused” use for the site and protect the long-term interest of the authority.

They were told that the land was declared surplus to DNPA’s requirements in 2008. Before it owned it, the land was in the hands of Devon County Council and used for periods by travellers as an unauthorised campsite.

DNPA member Philip Sanders said this was a good project to get involved with; he had visited the site and seen what the organisation was capable of.

“They deserve our support,” he said.

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