Following the approval of The British Waterways Board (Transfer
of Functions) Order 2012 ("the BW Order") Scottish Canals assumed
responsibility and accountability for the Scottish Canals, and will
meet regularly at canal-side locations across Scotland.
Scottish Canals is the operating name of the British Waterways
The British Waterways Board was established by the Transport Act 1962 to manage and maintain the
inland waterways. By virtue of the Scotland Act 1998, responsibility for the
inland waterways in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish
Parliament and was designated as a cross-border public authority
under the Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities)
(Specification) Order 1999.
Scottish Canals' core statutory duties are set out in:
Transport Act 1962 which gives statutory
responsibility for operating and maintaining the waterways for
which the British Waterways Board are the navigation authority.
Transport Act 1968 made changes to the use of
facilities controlled by the state-owned British Waterways. Reflecting the decline in
the use of canals and rivers for freight distribution, waterways
were divided into three categories:
• Commercial Waterways
• Cruising Waterways
• Remainder Waterways
The Act recognized the value of the waterway network for leisure
use, and set up the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council to
give advice to both government and British Waterways on all matters
concerned with the use of the network for recreation.
British Waterways Act 1971 Provisions of Part III Houseboats -
Restrictions, Registration & Charges and part of Part IV
Registration of Transfers extended to Scotland by s.9 (4) of
British Waterways Act 1975
British Waterways Act 1995 grants powers to
enter land and repair or maintain or carry out other operations for
the management and regulation of BWB waterways extended to Scotland
excluding Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Ness and Loch Dochfour.
Scottish Canals as a Scottish Public Body
In October 2010 the UK Government decided that the British
Waterways Board's functions and assets in England & Wales would
transfer to a new waterways charity, Canal & River Trust
("CRT"). Scottish Ministers decided to make no changes to the
arrangements for the ownership, care and maintenance of the
This transfer is enabled by the Public Bodies Act 2011.
The British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions)
Order 2012 ("the BW Order") provides for the transfer of the
British Waterways Board's functions in England & Wales to CRT.
The BW Order also removed England & Wales operations and UK
Ministers' powers in relation to the organisation to allow the
British Waterways Board to continue to operate effectively in
Scotland on a self-standing basis, without involvement from UK
Ministers. The BW Order also removed the British Waterways Board's
status as a cross-border public authority.
The British Waterways Board Transfer Scheme 2012 ("the Transfer
Scheme") came into force in conjunction with the BW Order. It
divides and transfers the property, rights and liabilities of the
British Waterways Board between the CRT, the Canal & River
Trust Community Interest Company - Canal & River Trading CIC -
and the British Waterways Board, operating as Scottish Canals.
As a default provision all property, rights and liabilities of
the British Waterways Board will transfer to the CRT to ensure that
the British Waterways Board, operating as Scottish Canals is not
unexpectedly burdened with liabilities. Scottish Canals, will
receive all of the property, rights and liabilities relating to the
activities of the British Waterways Board in Scotland as well as a
portion of the British Waterways Board's cross-border contracts.
The division of assets between the CRT and Scottish Canals was
agreed by the UK Government and the Scottish Government through a
disaggregation process. The draft Transfer Scheme was also made
available to the Scottish Parliament during their consideration of
the Transfer Order. The Scottish Parliament gave its consent to the
draft Transfer Order on 9th May 2012.
Scottish Canals is also required to comply with a range of
statutory duties and legal requirements relating to water quality,
health and safety, human resources and asset management. The
following legislation, although not exhaustive, reflects the key
compliance statutes for Scottish Canals as a Scottish public
▪ The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
▪ The Environmental Information (Scotland)
▪ The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc.
(Scotland) Act 2000;
▪ The Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act
▪ The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011;
▪ The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act
▪ Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act
▪ Water Environment (Controlled Activities)
(Scotland) Regulations 2005
▪ The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act
▪ The Reservoir Act 1975 (The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 is yet to be
commenced) requires Scottish Canals to implement recommendations
made in the interests of safety for its reservoirs which are
subject to inspection.
▪ Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act
1979 protects Scotlands' Canals (excepting the Monklands Canal)
by classing them as scheduled monuments of national
▪ The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004
protects 22 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on or
within 500m of a canal.
▪ Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974