Rodley Nature Reserve near Leeds has been presented with Open Country’s Good Access Scheme award. The Award celebrates the efforts of the volunteers in opening up the wetland area to wheelchair users and people with a disability. The team has spent the last few months building a new path leading to one of the bird hides and adapting it to be completely wheelchair accessible. The Reserve also offers Blue Badge parking, wheelchair-friendly picnic tables, disabled toilets and even the use of mobility scooter to access the open space.
This is the fourth year of the Good Access Scheme awards, which recognises the best countryside ‘access for all’ project in Yorkshire. The Reserve was chosen as this year’s winner by Open Country’s Advisory Group which is made up of member representatives from each of the charity’s activity groups. David Shaftoe, Chief Officer of Open Country, says: “We see a lot of positive developments in accessibility across the county, but Rodley Nature Reserve stood out for going the extra mile to ensure its open space can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their ability. The volunteers have made significant improvements to the access arrangements, taking advice on good practice and ensuring the paths are well maintained.”
Rodley Nature Reserve was developed when Yorkshire Water decommissioned the Rodley Water Treatment Works in 1993. Its wetland is now a haven for a variety of bird, mammal, plant and insect species with the Rodley Nature Reserve Trust following a careful plan of habitat management.
Peter Murphy, Secretary of Rodley Nature Reserve Trust says: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award. It has always been our aim to make all areas of the Reserve accessible to wheelchair users and our other less able visitors. All our birdwatching hides now have special facilities for wheelchairs and major improvements to some of our paths have been made in recent years. We are grateful to the Co-op Community Fund for their support for the paths project this year.”
Open Country launches its Good Access Scheme every summer and is always on the lookout for nominations. David continues: “We’d like to encourage the public to keep in mind our annual award scheme and if they have any suggestions of worthy winners, please do let us know. It might be improvements to a path or perhaps a place of interest that has recently done something a bit different to welcome disabled people. Award winners are chosen each year in November with the Award presentation taking place in December.”