Scottish Canals today (15 November) announced the results of an economic study showing £1.53 billion pound of investment in the canal corridors across Scotland since the re-opening of the Lowland inland waterways in 2002.
The recently commissioned study by Peter Brett Associates (now part of Stantec) found that the regeneration of Scotland’s canals has acted as a catalyst for an extraordinary £1.53 billion of investment on and around their banks, contributing to the creation of thousands of new houses and jobs.
The study, which was announced at a Marine Tourism symposium held at the Scottish Parliament, showed the revitalisation of Scotland’s canals has attracted a multi-million pound investment windfall in regeneration, tourism and infrastructure projects across the Highland and Lowland canals which has seen 9,078 housing units being built and the creation of 8,415 FTE jobs and 9,218 temporary construction jobs since 2010.
The latest report, which tracks the economic performance of Scotland’s canals between January 2016 and June 2019, reveals that the pace of change is accelerating with a 250% increase in investment both in the last three years compared to the previous period (2010-2015). The last three years alone have seen the creation over 2,100 FTE roles and 4,400 construction jobs – up 6.5% on the previous period.
Between January 2016 and June 2019, the Highland canal network, which includes the Caledonian and Crinan Canals, benefitted from an impressive £61.1 million investment – a 176% increase on the previous period (2010-2015). This saw the creation of a record 626 temporary construction job and the building of 468 new houses.
During the same period, the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals on the Lowlands saw the creation of over 2,000 FTE jobs in addition to 3,784 construction jobs and over 3,000 new homes built, thanks to an estimated £568 million investment.
Catherine Topley, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said: “Scotland’s canals have played a vital role in the country’s economic prosperity for over two hundred years, driving wealth creation during the industrial revolution to being major tourist attractions and leisure destinations today which attract over 20 million visits a year from walkers, cyclists, paddlers and boaters.
“This economic report demonstrates what we have known for some time; that our canals are just as important in meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century, whether it is helping tackle climate change and health inequalities or delivering against the Government’s agenda for new homes, jobs and tourist spend.”
She added: “As custodians of these valuable heritage assets, at Scottish Canals we are committed to using our inland waterways in new and innovative ways that benefit everyone in Scotland.”
The results were unveiled at a workshop for the next phase of the Marine Tourism Strategy which will run from 2020-25. Business leaders, tourism experts and industry figures taking part in the event, heard from multiple partners, including Scottish Canals, on how increased vibrancy on and along the water creates jobs and attracts investment.