Ecotalk & RSPB in momentous land purchase

18 July 2019

Ecotalk – our mobile network with a green outcome – has leant its support to a major wildlife project by the RSPB, offering financial support to buy and secure a piece of land, alongside major backer Biffa Award. 

It's what we're calling ‘bills into hills’, which means that Ecotalk uses customer mobile bill money to buy land for nature – rewilding it, encouraging wildlife of all shapes and sizes to takeover.

The RSPB is delighted to have purchased part of its Fairburn Ings reserve, near Castleford, securing land for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife and continuing the legacy of late conservation entrepreneur, Roy Taylor.

The Coal Tips, once the largest colliery spoil heap in Europe covering an area of 105 hectares, is today home to a fabulous array of rare habitats and wildlife including bitterns, otters, cuckoos, roe deer, brown hares and an abundance of butterflies and bees.

The £357,000 funding from Biffa Award and further funding from ethical green mobile service, Ecotalk by Ecotricity, means the RSPB can continue the ambition of inspirational conservationist and colleague Roy Taylor, who was instrumental in the acquisition of the Tips, which up to now were being managed by the RSPB under agreements with Leeds City Council and Harworth Estates.

The fantastic news comes just months after 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 RSPB reserves in Northern England.

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

To commemorate Roy’s life and honour his incredible contribution to nature conservation, Fairburn’s 2km scenic ‘Coal Tips Trail’ will soon take on the new name of the ‘Roy Taylor Trail’.

Darren Starkey, Senior Site Manager at RSPB Fairburn Ings said: “We’re so thankful to Biffa Award and Ecotalk by Ecotricity for their generous funding that has allowed Roy’s vision to become a reality. The site is already home to fantastic and rare wildlife, enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year, but now, their future is even more secure as they have been purchased for our Fairburn Ings nature reserve. To be able to re-name the Coal Tips Trail in memory of Roy Taylor is the final piece of the jigsaw. Roy was passionate about wildlife but also about connecting people to the outdoors, so he would be delighted to see generations to come enjoy visiting this amazing place.”

Fairburn Ings offers a network of over five miles of accessible footpaths and welcomes an annual 60,000 visitors of all ages and abilities to get close to nature. Visitors to the Roy Taylor Trail can hope to see green woodpeckers, hear the eerie booming of the elusive bittern and catch a glimpse of spoonbills which have been one of Fairburn’s star species since making the reserve their second UK breeding site in 2017.

Gillian French, Biffa Award Head of Grants, said: “We are privileged to be able to play a part in the continuation of the late Roy Taylor’s legacy. Projects like this, which secure habitats for a variety of rare species, are extremely important.”

Paul Sands, Director of Growth, Ecotricity said: “Ecotalk is Ecotricity’s new green mobile phone service, we use the money from customer bills to buy land to give back to nature. The bill money from our Ecotalk customers has meant we are able to help the RSPB safeguard this important site – allowing wildlife to flourish and for future generations to enjoy. Making room for nature is an important focus for Ecotalk and Ecotricity as we work towards a greener Britain.”

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