The British Waterways Board, operating as Scottish Canals, continues in Scotland as a stand alone public body following the transfer of the functions of the British Waterways Board in England and Wales to the Canal & River Trust on 2nd July 2012.
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 Board.
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:
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 Scottish canals.
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 body:
- The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002;
- The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004;
- The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000;
- The Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010;
- The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011;
- The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002.
- Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003
- Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005
- The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009
- 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 importance.
- 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