The Team

Operations Manager Sonia Sinanan has over 25 years of experience in operations, administration, financial and project management and the use of ICTs in the not-for-profit sector, and has worked at a senior management level for the last 15 years. She has worked collectively in a number of organisations including Hazellville Housing Coop, Fifth Column t-shirt printing collective and 59 Greek Street hostel for homeless women. Sonia was a founder member of the charity Computer Aid International where she was Director of Operations for 10 years, and a board member for 6 years. She has also worked as a Grants Officer at Comic Relief, Deputy CEO at the Association of Charitable Foundations, Director of Operations at the peacebuilding charity Conciliation Resources and is a co-founder of Web Gathering Ltd. Email:


Executive Director Oliver Rodker In addition to working for our cooperative as Site Developer, Oli Rodker is part of the core group of the Landworkers’ Alliance. Over the last twenty years Oli has also worked – and continues to work – on a variety of environmental projects and campaigns. Previously Oli co-founded Equinox Housing Co-op in Manchester and Landmatters Co-op, a 42 acre permaculture community in Devon. He is a director of Knott Wood Coppicers, a workers’ co-op specialising in woodland management and tree planting. Email:

Committee of Management

Board Secretary Alex Lawrie is a cooperative development worker for Somerset Co-operative Services CIC. Before joining SCS he co-founded Stepping Stones and Cornerstone Housing co-ops, Footprint Workers’ Co-op and Somerset Co-op CLT. He is the author of *Empowering the Earth* and *Simply Finance*


Treasurer Holger Westphely is one of the co-founders of Eastside Consulting and sits on the Eastside Primetimers Board as a non-executive Director. He has advised hundreds of social organisations over the last 10 years on finance, strategy and business planning. He also played a variety of roles on government funded support contracts aimed at helping small organisations to raise investment, ranging from project management and consultancy to quality assurance. More recently Holger has focussed on social investment and impact measurement, helping clients to define and monitor their social metrics with a view to demonstrating their impact to investors and commissioners.


Dave Darby, Chair, is director of He visited lots of communities before moving to Redfield Community in 1996. When working on development projects in Romania, he realised that they saw Western countries as role models, so he decided to try and bring about change in the UK instead, and set up in 2001. Oli Rodker (above) is also part of the Committee.


Director Cate Chapman started her career in the student movement, working for the NUS and member unions. Working across a number of roles, she latterly focused on advice and advocacy as a finance and welfare benefits adviser, working with individual clients and informing social policy work. She has also variously worked as a lecturer and freelance copy writer/editor, and currently runs a small editing agency. Cate occasionally writes, with work published in several books including contributing to several of The Dark Mountain Project’s anthologies. 




Membership & Engagement Manager Oliver Bettany brings with him to the ELC over 20 years of professional experience working as a web developer and digital consultant in the corporate and not-for-profit sector, working with organisations like the BBC, McGraw-Hill, LloydsTSB, WaterAid and Friends of the Earth. He has been actively involved in environmentalism and agriculture since 2011. Before joining us at the ELC, he earned his stripes as a project manager in the enlightened agriculture sector through his work at Sacred Earth, a biodynamic land, education and community project based in Sussex, where he project managed the organisation’s transition into community ownership in 2016. Oliver is also a humanistic counsellor, ecotherapist and group worker who is passionate about developing organisational culture in order to get the most out of small teams. He lives with his wife Alice, a forager, herbalist and nature-based workshop facilitator, at Wapsbourne Manor Farm near Sheffield Park in East Sussex.

As well as organising member events like our AGM and representing us at events across the UK to promote our work and encourage people to join us, his job is to communicate with and support our existing members. We’ve identified this as an important role as the organisation grows and develops, in order to maintain strong links with the grassroots of our membership. Email:

Planning Applications Manager Zoe Wangler was the Cooperative's Managing Director from 2009-2015, moving to Executive Chair in August 2015. Before working at the Cooperative Zoe worked as a freelance environmental researcher. Her clients included the International Institute of Environment and Development, Friends of the Earth and the Food Commission. She also managed projects and ran stakeholder consultations, high-level workshops and project evaluations for clients including the National Consumer Council and Green Globe Network. For 3 years Zoe was part of the management team at the Tenderloin Neighbourhood Development Corporation, a not-for-profit property development and management company serving the low-income Tenderloin community in San Francisco. Zoe interned at the Centre for Alternative Technology and lived at John Seymour’s Centre for Living. 


Brett Spiller, Planning Agent, Arlington Site. Brett is a Chartered Town Planner, a longstanding board member of RTPI SW and founder of Chapman Lily Planning Limited.  He is able to draw upon his understanding of the process of Local Plan preparation, the importance of the underpinning evidence base and the ever present political dimension of planning, to promote land for new development.  He has a passion for innovative forms of development that challenge the traditional status quo and embody the three strands of sustainability to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to local communities.  As such, he felt privileged to offer professional advice to the ELC during the formative stages of the Greenham Reach appeal.  Needless to say he was delighted with the outcome. Brett has worked within consultancy, unitary and district local authorities, and more recently for a national waste and renewable energy firm. His expertise includes planning appraisals, planning applications & appeals, community engagement, EIA and HRA Regulations. He specialises in residential, commercial, mixed-use and infrastructure projects.


Dr Simon Ruston, Planning Agent, Greenham Site. Simon is chartered town planner with his own practice, specialising in Low Impact Development as well as Gypsy and Traveller planning matters. Simon has a doctorate in planning law from the University of the West of England and has worked and researched in his specialist fields for the last nine years. He has spoken, published and delivered training on behalf of the RTPI, Planning Aid Scotland, NAPE (Network for Planning Enforcement) conference, South West Councils, Legal Action Magazine, and Bristol UWE.


Haskel Adamson, Site Manager, Arlington. Haskel will be working on improving the land on the Arlington site and preparing it for people being able to move onto it when planning permission has been granted. His current tasks are to get organic status for the site, to improve the pasture and hedge boundaries, and to organise a tree planting weekend for February 2018. He would love to hear from local residents from Arlington about their views on the project, whether positive or of their concerns about the project.  Haskel's other work is as a medical herbalist working from his dispensary in Lewes, having worked in horticulture since his teenage years. Email:


Communications Team, Lauren Simpson. Documentary film producer and organising enthusiast Lauren produced the acclaimed independent cinematic documentary Just Do It - a tale of modern-day outlaws released in 2011. Until recently she worked as the Operations Manager for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and as Production Manager at Dartmouth Films in London but is now in pursuit of a land based living in Wales.

and Phil Moore Communicator, collaborator, connector Phil is passionate about media. A former staffer at the Ecologist Magazine, he occasionally writes for Permaculture Magazine UK. A background in documentary film making Phil has worked for a number of organisations including The Real Farming Trust, Agroforestry Research Trust, ActionAid, The Environmental Law Foundation, The Environmental Justice Foundation and the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival in a variety of roles. Phil and Lauren recently produced a series of nine short films called Living with the Land and have launched their own farm business Parc y Dderwen. Email:


The Ecological Cooperative is also fortunate to benefit from the support of many other pro-bono advisors and volunteers:

  • Legal advice (planning), solicitor Lucy Thomas, Ashurst LLP;
  • Legal advice (real estate) and conveyancing, solicitor Louisa Bradley, Ashurst LLP;
  • Legal representation (planning), barrister Phil McLeish, Garden Court North Chambers;
  • Planning advice, Chartered Planner, Daniel Scharf MRTPI PfT Planning, Blake Morgan;
  • Web resources updates, volunteer Amelia Rowland;
  • School visit and work day co-ordination support, member Teresa Perrella