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Seòmar agus comataidhean

Question reference: S6W-14018

  • Asked by: Jamie Greene, MSP for West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Date lodged: 18 January 2023 Registered interest
  • Current status: Answered by Jenny Gilruth on 31 January 2023


To ask the Scottish Government what recent assessment it has made of the economic and environmental value of inland waterways and canals to Scotland, and when it last met with (a) the Inland Waterways Association and (b) Scottish Canals.


The Scottish Government recognises the positive economic and environmental impact that canals and inland waterways make to Scotland.

Scotland’s canals contribute significantly to the nation’s economic, social and environmental prosperity, from supporting tourism and local businesses to creating jobs, stimulating housing development, helping to tackle health inequalities and encouraging greater accessibility to green and blue spaces for millions of people.

The results of an economic study in 2019, conducted by Peter Brett Associates (now part of Stantec), assessed the investment in the canal corridors across Scotland since the re-opening of the Lowland inland waterways in 2002. It found that the regeneration of Scotland’s canals has acted as a catalyst for £1.53 billion of investment on and around their banks, contributing to the creation of thousands of new houses and jobs. It further showed that the revitalisation of Scotland’s canals has attracted a substantial investment windfall in regeneration, tourism and infrastructure projects across the Highland and Lowland canals.

Scottish Canals is tasked with environmental responsibility, ensuring that the canals contribute to resilience in the face of climate change, and also contribute to the ambition of a decarbonised future.

Scottish Canals produces an Environment Strategy which seeks to define a clear route to delivering sustainable benefits on the canal network and the wider environment. The purpose of this strategy is to directly contribute to the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes by creating sustainable places, reducing the environmental impact of Scottish Canals’ use of resource and protecting and enhancing the built and natural environment. Scottish Canals will be updating this strategy in 2025.

My Officials have engaged with members of the Inland Waterways Association through the Cross-Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism. I last met with the Chair and Board at the Falkirk Wheel on 25 August 2022 and my officials meet with Scottish Canals on a regular basis.