RSPB Fairburn Ings is celebrating after being presented with an award, recognising accessibility improvements made across the site, and plans to make even more changes in 2017 thanks to a new funding grant.The nature reserve, near Castleford, was awarded the Open Country 'Good Access Scheme' award. Open Country is a charitable organisation which enables anyone with a disability to access the countryside through the provision of countryside activities and information. Launched in 2015, their scheme recognises the best countryside 'access for all' projects in Yorkshire each year.
In addition, Fairburn Ings has been awarded over £30,000 from The Veolia Environmental Trust, which will go towards further accessibility improvements.
Kate Struthers, Fairburn Ings' Visitor Operations Manager, said: "We are very proud to accept the award from Open Country in recognition of our work to make Fairburn accessible for all. The network of accessible, robust paths across the reserve means that everyone has the opportunity to glimpse the flash of blue of a kingfisher, or hear the song of a skylark on a summer's day."
In the last 18 months, Fairburn Ings has made improvements to the Lin Dike Link footpath, taking ramblers along the River Aire from the visitor centre, towards Castleford. The footpath was resurfaced and drainage improved, making the nature reserve accessible to those using wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs, as well as ensuring the path can be used by all visitors throughout the year.
This has been possible thanks to funding from WREN, a not for profit business which awards grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund.
The Veolia Environmental Trust grant, of £34,781, will go towards resurfacing the footpath on the reserve's Coaltips trail, making it even more accessible for all.
Darren Starkey, Fairburn Ings' Site Manager, added: "We're very grateful to Veolia for awarding us this grant. The footpath improvements and associated works will enable all our visitors to explore every part of our beautiful nature reserve, and discover the wildlife that makes its home here."
Other access improvements at Fairburn Ings include the opening of the Coal Tips Trail and installation of four RADAR key operated kissing gates at each entrance thanks to funds raised by RSPB Reserves Area Manager, Roy Taylor, during his 2015 Wheelchair Challenge.