In this first of a kind collaboration between Scottish Canals and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), a significant amount of works carried out on Scotland’s canals to maintain and preserve the 200 year old assets will now fall under a pre-agreed list of works under Section 17 of the Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

The streamlining of the process will allow Scottish Canals to focus on more complex pieces of work in partnership with HES, and will see time previously spent on multiple Scheduled Monument Consent applications directed to other projects.

This will allow Scottish Canals to continue working on their Asset Management Strategy; managing investments and directing resources to assets in the interest of public value and safety. A majority of the projects under the Asset Management Strategy will now be pre-approved with the signing of the new agreement.

“The signing of the Section 17 Agreement is a positive outcome following a number of years work from both Scottish Canals and HES. The result is an excellent example of collaboration and partnership working which will continue to shine a light on all that both organisations do to protect and safeguard Scotland’s canals.

“The streamlining of the process will allow Scottish Canals to continue to focus on the assets which need essential restorative work, while allowing resources to be channelled into other projects, allowing us to effectively work towards our wider business goals.”

Catherine Topley, Chief Executive, Scottish Canals

Barbara Cummins, Director of Heritage at HES said: 

“We are delighted to have worked with Scottish Canals to produce this agreement which acts in a similar manner to a pre-agreed Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC). This will enable Scottish Canals to carry out essential work without applying for a new SMC each time, saving time and resource.

“This collaboration highlights the importance of partnership working to protect and manage our historic environment, and we hope that it will enhance the benefit of these features of our industrial past for the many people who use, live on, work on or beside, and enjoy the canals.”


Chris O’Connell Scottish Canals Heritage Manager said: 

“The agreement is a recognition of Scottish Canals and Historic Environment Scotland’s commitment to the nation’s heritage, and will enhance the operation and maintenance of Scotland’s Historic Canals.”

The signing of the agreement was recognised by a virtual meeting held online and attended by both parties on the 23rd of March 2021.

An example of ongoing works which will now fall under the newly signed Section 17 Agreement is the replacement of the Lock Gates on the Caledonian Canal.

The gates are over 30 years old and therefore based on age, condition and risk, are considered a priority for replacement. You can find out more about the type of work which will fall under the new agreement on the Scottish Canals website.

While the Heritage Directorate currently has a Section 17 Agreement with the HES Conservation Directorate, the signing of the agreement will be the first of its kind in Scotland to see an external organisation granted with these permissions. You can find out more about the work that HES do on their website.

Notes to editors

For further information, please contact:

Eden Morrison at Scottish Canals on 07976555241 or email

Claire Mullaney at HES on 07721 959 962 or email


Scottish Canals

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Forth & Clyde, Union, Monklands, Caledonian and Crinan Canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the 137-miles of Scotland’s canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18thcentury assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22 million visits per year.


Historic Environment Scotland

  • Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. HES is also the lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of Historic Environment Scotland.
  • Historic Environment Scotland is a registered Scottish Charity. Scottish Charity No. SC045925
  • You can keep up to date with news from Historic Environment Scotland and register for media release email alerts here. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.
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