Scottish Canals is gearing up for the busy summer boating season by investing £250,000 in new machinery to help carry out a comprehensive programme of dredging and weed cutting along the nation’s waterways.
The works will be delivered by Scottish Canals’ in-house dredging team, who will work with boaters to tackle areas causing navigational issues. By investing in its people, Scottish Canals is strengthening the in-house expertise needed to continue safeguarding the heritage of these valuable historic assets. The move will also save around £50,000 per year on contractor costs.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay joined Scottish Canals’ Chairman Andrew Thin and Chief Executive Steve Dunlop at Bowling Basin on the Forth & Clyde Canal to celebrate the investment and see the new equipment in action.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “I welcome this investment in dredging equipment which will enable Scottish Canals to tackle areas currently causing navigational issues for boating enthusiasts. By doing so, this work will help ensure the safe navigation of the Lowland canals by leisure craft while enabling progress towards the Scottish Government’s aspiration of growth in the numbers of boats navigating these vital tourism assets.”
The investment follows the completion of a successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Scottish Canals and the University of Strathclyde to generate additional income from finding innovative new uses for the waste materials generated by dredging which included turning it into building materials or feedstock for producing bio gas.
Andrew Thin, Chairman of Scottish Canals, said: “While this investment won’t solve all our dredging needs, it will help to improve the navigation channel along Scotland’s canals for boaters to enjoy and ensure we are tackling weed and dredging hotspots throughout the year.
“By carrying out this work ourselves, we’re upskilling our staff as the custodians of these working heritage assets, giving them valuable experience and bringing that expertise back in-house. We’re also generating savings that can be reinvested in safeguarding the rich heritage of Scotland’s canals for future generations to enjoy.
“Thanks to the ground-breaking work carried out with the University of Strathclyde, we’re also working to develop innovative new uses for the dredged material we recover from the canals, not only to earn more income but reduce the impact we have on the environment.”
The initial phase of the project will take place at Linlithgow on the Union Canal, with more than 1500 tonnes of sediment expected to be removed from the waterway in the next few weeks.