Moorland green project facing closure
A co-operative recycling project on Dartmoor could be forced to close after park bosses imposed a series of "ridiculous" demands, including tearing down unattractive parts of its "cluttered" site.
Proper Job has been salvaging and selling useful items such as furniture, books, tools and clothes from an industrial estate on the outskirts of Chagford for 17 years.
Now it says the national park authority wants to restrict what can be sold, reduce private donors and force it to take down or enclose the portable cabins which serve as its offices and sales units.
The project's directors have urged the park to "move with the times" and say closing a centre whose only wish is to keep the local area tidy and sustainable is "absurd".
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Angharad Barlow, a co-operative director, said the conditions imposed were "ludicrous" and threatened to end the pioneering scheme.
"It completely restricts our ability to sell – we are a not-for-profit organisation and make the money to survive selling items the public bring in," she added.
"They say we are drawing trade away from the village but we have the overwhelming support of the public and traders and in no way are we a threat."
The centre was founded by local environmentalists long before the practice of recycling became uniformly fashionable.
Located at the rural Crannafords Industrial Estate, it was created in a response to concerns that much of the area's rubbish was going straight to landfill and could be re-used locally.
What began as a "one man and a barrow of compost" operation, now employs eight mostly part-time workers and diverts 50 tonnes of waste away from landfill each year.
The directors have been in discussion with Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) over a retrospective planning application for its portable cabins, some of which are stacked on top of one another, reaching two storeys in height.
Now DNPA has delivered its response in the form of a proposed section 106 agreement, set to be attached to any approval which is granted.
It says the upper containers are visible and give a "cluttered industrial appearance" to the site, within rolling farmland, and wants them removed or hidden from view.
Chris Hart, DNPA planning team manager, said they were not taking a "Draconian view" but described the "visual impact" of the two-storey cabins as "an issue".