Environment and Heritage

We value the built and natural heritage on the Scottish canals, and understand how important our role is in conserving and protecting this special environment and heritage for all to enjoy.

Our policies are under review – They will be published here once formally adopted.


Our environment is our physical world, common to everybody – including air, water, land, flora and fauna.  Our principles address the whole of the environment and our interaction directly or through our business activities with it.

Our canals are part of a working, living waterway network, used for navigation and general recreation.  We must integrate the needs of those who visit and use the network with the actions needed to conserve canalside wildlife and habitats.

While complying with legislation and regulation we aim to continually improve our performance and consistently achieve good practice – we aim to be the acknowledged expert in achieving the most sustainable integration of the competing needs and uses of the waterways.  Where judgments have to be made between competing resources and conflicting activities, we will take the long term and strategic view.  In doing so we presume that this will favour the conservation of the environment.

We carefully manage our environmental impact, including reducing the use of non-renewable resources, minimising waste, conserving water resources, promoting biodiversity and prevention of pollution throughout our activities.  We are committed to the efficient and beneficial use of our land resource, with conservation and enhancement of the unique waterway landscape and character.

We regularly review of our policies, procedures and systems to ensure that our environmental practices and performance reflect any changes in business circumstances, relevant legal requirement and customer expectation.  We use the principles of environmental management systems and will measure environmental performance through objectives and targets including those within Corporate Social Responsibility Lead Indicators.  We will publicly report on progress on these Lead Indicators, ensuring our environmental performance is verifiable and auditable.

We will promote best practices amongst our employees, contractors, suppliers, customers and partners.  We will seek suppliers, contractors and partners with standards consistent with our own.

Environment Strategy

Scottish Canals’ first Environment Strategy sets out how we will continue to deliver environmental benefits during the next 10 years and beyond, while enhancing our financial sustainability.

The comprehensive strategy will play a key role as the organisation looks to achieve its goal of having canals act as catalysts for sustainable development in communities across Scotland.

Download the policy here.


Together, the five historic waterways we look after are one of Scotland’s most significant national collections. We maintain a consistent, approved approach to heritage management on Scottish Canals’ estate.  One of our key values is that all heritage assets are given same level of beneficial treatment and protection, whether designated (legally protected) or non-designated.

Our policies, processes and standards are in place for anyone managing, developing, disposing, maintaining or specifying works to our heritage assets.

Heritage Policy

The heritage policy provides a framework for our structures, processes and relationships to deliver positive heritage management. It sets out 6 principles derived from Scottish Government’s policy Making the Most of Scotland’s Canals, Scottish Canals Vision: Safeguarding our Heritage. Building our Future and Scottish Canals Heritage Strategy.

Download the policy here.

Heritage Strategy

Our Heritage Strategy 2013-38 sets out a 25-year vision and 5-year plan for our canal heritage. Its aim is to help to shape the future of our historic places, inspire the next generation and celebrate our cultural legacy.

Download the PDF version of the Heritage Strategy 2013-38.