Steward Community Woodland call for support

Maxey L. l.maxey at
Tue Sep 23 16:26:49 BST 2008

Apologies for cross points, please read and consider supporting this important case, as well as forwarding to those who may be interested, thanks, Larch 

Dr. Larch Maxey
Swansea University/Prifysgol Abertawe
L.Maxey at

Dan Thompson-Mills
Steward Community Woodland
Newton Abbot
Devon TQ13 8SD
Tel 01647 440233
community at


Dear Friends

I am writing to let you know about the 8 year old
eco-community I am involved in and our current
struggle with the planning authorities. I hope that
that you can pass on these details and publicise our
project and appeal for financial support at this time.

Steward Community Woodland is a low impact,
sustainable project based in a 32 acre woodland near
Moretonhampstead. The community currently comprises 11
adults and 7 children (with a baby on its way) living
in dwellings we have built ourselves with materials
from the wood and recycled/reused materials. Most are
timber-frame structures, canvas covered and built on
stilts to provide a flat floor on the sloping
valleyside, with insulation and wood-burning stoves.
Amongst our structures are raised beds with vegetables
and flowers, fruit bushes and trees, as well as our
renewable energy systems and large Growing Area.

We spend our time managing the woodland (tree felling
and planting, coppicing etc); growing food
organically; building and maintaining our low impact
structures and infrastructure; home educating our
children; running Forest School sessions; running
courses (such as permaculture design courses); and
organising and catering for visiting volunteers.

Unfortunately, despite the urgency of finding
solutions to climate change and overwhelming local
support for the project, the Dartmoor National Park
Authority refused us planning permission to continue
our sustainable way of life. Consequently, we have
launched an Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. A
public inquiry has been set for 11/12th November 2008.
We now urgently need donations to help pay for the
solicitors costs and witness expenses (which will add
up to as much as £20,000). Please, if you value what
we are doing, consider contributing to our Appeal


We have achieved much over the 8 years the project has
been running. We have, for example
-	inspired thousands of visitors to the woods, to our
website and to our stall at events, passing on skills,
knowledge and information on sustainable living and
permaculture (and we, in turn, have learnt from and
been inspired by many of our visitors)
-	demonstrated renewable energy systems, such as micro
hydro power, solar and cycle power
-	demonstrated organic food growing, incorporating
permaculture ideas such as growing perennials and
forest gardens
-	demonstrated low impact building and living over
several years
-	sold some timber and woodland products (such as
larch trees to build a barn at Proper Job in Chagford,
and split larch fence posts)
-	run several successful residential permaculture
design courses with students from around the UK and
the world
-	contributed to the local community, through our
involvement in various voluntary groups, running
computer courses at the Library, offering computer
support, organising events for Transition Town
Moreton, breastfeeding peer counselling, etc.

We have carried out a Carbon Audit which concludes
that our carbon footprint is 23% of the national
average. Fourth World Ecological Design have conducted
an independent report this year which shows that "the
average Ecological Footprint of the residents of
Steward Community Woodland over the period studied was
2.06 gha, 39% of the the Ecological Footprint of a
typical UK individual. The equivalent Carbon Footprint
was 3.75 tonnes, 34% of the UK average at 10.92

Consequently, we are a working model of sustainability
and positive action for the benefit of people, animals
and the Earth. We are an asset to the National Park
and the local area.

Our planning application is available for viewing on
our website and in hard copy (please ring and we can
lend it to you). Also, if you wish to visit us in the
woods, you'd be most welcome (please call to arrange).


·	We are applying for a further temporary permission
of 5 years, which would continue to be subject to
conditions guaranteeing that only environmentally
benign, low impact development and activities take
place on the land.
·	Living on-site is essential for the continued
viability of this sustainable project. Living on-site
facilitates us to grow food and live without
connection to any of the utilities (water,
electricity, gas, sewage disposal). We provide all
these services ourselves by ecological and sustainable
means (filtered spring water, compost toilets,
renewable energy, using wood from the land for fuel,
etc). Living in conventional housing in nearby towns
and commuting to the site could only be supported by
having full-time (and well-paid) jobs elsewhere,
leaving us with little or no time to carry out the
project. Living in the woods enables us to dedicate
our time to the project and be fully committed to it,
and to home educate our children in a safe and
nourishing environment.
·	We aim to meet our needs from a combination of
subsistence living, commercial activities on site and
from other ethically based work (such as working at
Proper Job, the local composting, reuse/recycle
·	We would like scope to employ eco-build techniques
such as cob and strawbale construction, turf and
thatch roof (these techniques have been used in many
other places for low impact structures).
·	We are committed to reducing vehicle usage, sharing
vehicles and only using biofuels in our vehicles.


We won our original 5 year planning permission on
Appeal in 2002 and there are other important appeal
decisions granting permission for low impact projects
such as those for Tinkers Bubble in Somerset and
Landmatters in Totnes. We are confident of success and
are employing Battens solicitors who acted in all the
above appeals.


If you wish to make a donation, our bank details are
as follows:
Affinity Woodland Workers Co-operative Ltd
Triodos Bank, Bristol
Sort Code 16-58-10
Account No 03421700

Many Thanks.

Dan, Beccy, Merlin, Son, John, Seth, Mel, Becky,
Chris, Owen, Jamie & all the children


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