Scottish Canals and Edinburgh City Council unlock plans for Union Canal

Scottish Canals in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council have revealed plans to refocus efforts to improve the popular and historic Union Canal.

The local authority along with the canal custodians have this month launched the Edinburgh Union Canal Strategy 2024-2029 outlining ways in which user behaviour, access, safety, development opportunities and enhancing biodiversity can be improved along the towpaths.

Edinburgh Union Canal Partnership, comprising of City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Canal, engaged with key groups along the canal and partner organisations, such as Sustrans and Keep Scotland Beautiful, to update the strategy.

The strategy, where resource and finance allow, will also aim to look at increasing signage to promote responsible behaviour along the canal in response to one of the key areas identified within the consultation process.

The strategy will also look to continue its partnership working to grow and create skills-based training opportunities as well as ensuring the canal’s biodiversity is protected and enhanced through education and volunteering.

Several organisations already undertake vital work utilising the Union Canal to carry out activities ranging from boat trips to educational programmes.

The Union Canal celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2022 and is a significant industrial heritage asset not just for the city, but nationally recognised as such by its status as a Scheduled Monument. 

Scottish Canals’ Chief Executive Officer John Paterson launched the strategy this week said: “The Union Canal recently celebrated its 200th anniversary and is a significant industrial heritage asset not just for the city, but nationally recognised as such by its status as a Scheduled Monument.

“This refreshed strategy developed by the Edinburgh Union Canal Partnership sets out a five-year plan and will prioritise on active travel, education, heritage, partnership working, and development. We will work with developers and other stakeholders to ensure new opportunities enhance the Union Canal and contribute to a resilient and inclusive canal community.”

City of Edinburgh Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “The Union Canal is a culture-rich asset for Edinburgh, which doesn’t only boast a fascinating history and link to the west of the country, but provides a vital active travel route and a source of biodiversity.

“The Edinburgh Union Canal Strategy 2024-2029 will not only protect the canal’s longevity, but will help us to explore ways to improve its use and accessibility, along with partners and the local community.”

Pictured below: Scottish Canals CEO John Paterson, Cllr Val Walker, Cllr Scott Arthur, and Rebecca Smith – Canal Officer, City of Edinburgh Council are pictured with representatives from Fountainbridge Canalside Community Trust,  Edinburgh Union Canal Society & St. Andrews Boat Club, George Heriot Rowing Club, Scottish Waterways for All, and Merchiston Community Council.

The strategy can be viewed via Scottish Canals and the City of Edinburgh Council’s websites.

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