£5.35m for Scottish canal improvements

Government funding will help maintain and improve Scotland's canal network Photo: Inland Waterways Association Government funding will help maintain and improve Scotland's canal network Photo: Inland Waterways Association

Scottish Canals has been awarded £5.35m in government funds to help maintain and improve the canal network.

The investment follows continuing discussions between Scottish Canals and Transport Scotland about the challenges involved in maintaining the historic assets on the network and the publication in June this year of Scottish Canals Asset Management Strategy.

“This is fantastic news and is testament to the ongoing conversations we are having with the Scottish government about the value of the canals to Scotland,” said Catherine Topley, Scottish Canals chief executive of Scottish Canals.

“These working heritage assets are incredibly important, not only to Scotland’s marine economy but in attracting tourists, visitor spend and investment, stimulating job creation and business growth as well as helping to protect the environment.”

Closed

The Forth & Clyde Canal has been closed as a through route for most of 2018. The additional funding has enabled contracts to be let with work due to start in January 2019, nearly a year after the two bridges failed in February 2018.

The funds will also help fix the recent failure of lock gates at Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal and replace lock gates and new moorings on the same waterway.

Four pairs of lock gates for the Forth & Clyde Canal are also due for replacement.

Other projects in the pipeline are new water monitoring systems for the Crinan Reservoir and the Forth & Clyde summit pound, a review of remote operations for Bonnybridge and Twechar bridges and a new dredging plant to enable Scottish Canals' staff to improve the navigation channel across the network.

Investment

Continued investment is required however and the Inland Waterways Association has expressed concern. In a media statement, the IWA commented: “The announced funding goes some way to addressing the issues we are concerned about, but we still consider that additional funding will be necessary.

“In particular, we would ask Transport Scotland to provide in its 2019-20 budget the additional £3m of revenue funding that will enable the canals to be maintained, and additional capital funds to replace assets that have already failed.”

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