On Tuesday 19, we held a special ceremony to mark the official renaming of Fairburn's Coal Tips Trail.

The event was held to celebrate our recent purchase of the site, thanks to funding from Biffa Award and Ecotalk by Ecotricity, continuing the legacy of our dear friend, late conservation entrepreneur, Roy Taylor. The ribbon was cut by special guests BBC Springwatch presenter Gillian Burke, Roy Taylor’s wife Anna, his son, his parents, and representatives from our funders (and our team of course).

(L-R Mark, Fairburn Reserve Volunteer; Tony Richardson, Biffa Award Board Member; Gillian Burke, Springwatch presenter; Meryl, RSPB Visitor Experience Officer; Anna Taylor, Roy's wife and Rachel Haywood, Biffa Award). 

As our visitors know, the Coal Tips here, once the largest colliery spoil heap in Europe covering an area of 105ha, is today home to a fabulous array of rare habitats and wildlife including bittern, otter, cuckoo, roe deer, brown hare and an abundance of butterflies and bees.

Thanks to £357,000 major funding from Biffa Award and a further £15,000 funding from ethical green mobile service, Ecotalk by Ecotricity, we were able to purchase the site in summer this year, to continue the ambition of inspirational conservationist and colleague, Roy Taylor.

Roy sadly passed away in October 2018, aged 49, following five years living with Motor Neurone Disease. Roy spent his entire career working for the RSPB, most recently as Area Reserves Manager for Yorkshire. He was well-known for his remarkable conservation work and, in recent years, his campaigning for improved access to the countryside which saw him take on a 215 mile coast-to-coast Wheelchair Challenge to raise funds to improve the accessibility of our reserves in Northern England.

Roy Taylor

Roy was also a key driver in several high-profile conservation successes such as the creation of our Old Moor nature reserve near Barnsley. Now, through kick-starting the process of purchasing Fairburn’s Coal Tips, he’s enabled us to continue managing this once-barren, industrial landscape as a refuge for wildlife and for you to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the area.

To commemorate Roy’s life and honour his incredible contribution to nature conservation, our 2km scenic ‘Coal Tips Trail’ has now officially been re-named the ‘Roy Taylor Trail’.

It means a lot to all of us who worked with Roy, to be able to put this final piece in the jigsaw that he started at Fairburn Ings, and re-name the Coal Tips Trail in his memory. We’re so thankful to Biffa Award and Ecotalk by Ecotricity for their generous funding that has enabled Roy’s vision to become a reality, and it’s been wonderful to have his family here to celebrate too. Saving nature, and connecting people to it, were two things that Roy was most passionate about, and it is fantastic that his legacy means generations of both people and wildlife will continue to be at home in this special place.

Fairburn Ing has a network of over five miles of accessible footpaths and each year we welcome 60,000 visitors of all ages and abilities to get close to nature. Visitors to the Roy Taylor Trail can hope to see a rich variety of special wildlife that lives there such as the bittern and spoonbill that were showcased when the reserve was featured on an episode of Springwatch last year.

Spoonbill (Steve Smith)

Gillian French, Biffa Award Head of Grants, said: “It is a privilege to be able to play a part in the continuation of the late Roy Taylor’s legacy, as the major funder of the Fairburn Tips project. Securing habitats like this for the future and providing the opportunity for people to experience, explore and enjoy wildlife is extremely important. We hope that Roy’s passion for conservation will live on at Fairburn Ings nature reserve and benefit many generations to come.”

Paul Sands, Director of Growth, from Ecotalk by Ecotricity said: "Ecotalk is Ecotricity’s green mobile phone service. We use the money from customer bills to buy land to give back to nature, helping secure a greener Britain. We’re delighted that Ecotalk customers have enabled us to support the RSPB in purchasing Fairburn Tips, restoring old coal workings to allow wildlife to flourish and safeguarding it for future generations.”

We hope to welcome lots of you to use the Roy Taylor Trail very soon.

View on the Roy Taylor Trail (Alan Coe)