Scottish Canals Launches Ambitious New Three Year Vision

Scottish Canals has today launched its Corporate Plan for 2020-23, which sets out the vision for the organisation over the next three years.

Scottish Canals Launches Ambitious New Three Year Vision from Scottish Canals on Vimeo.


The new strategy illustrates how Scottish Canals will undertake statutory duties as set out in the Transport Acts of 1962 and 1968 and how it will contribute to the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes.

Four priorities steer the strategy; Transform our canals, Create new opportunities, Excel at what we do and Respond to global challenges.

A crucial part of this is ensuring the 200-year-old waterways can continue to thrive in the future, through careful maintenance and improvements, in addition to adapting to future challenges such as climate change. In 2020, a partnership with Glasgow City Council and Scottish Water will see Scottish Canals commission Glasgow’s Smart Canal; integrating predictive weather and sensor technology with the historic Forth & Clyde Canal to manage surface water which will allow for up to 3,000 new homes to be built in the area, whilst reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

“Our 2020-23 Corporate Plan builds on the key priorities and successes achieved to date.

“By doing all we can to maximise the public value of these incredible working heritage assets, use them imaginatively to benefit everyone in Scotland, play our part in addressing the climate emergency and ensuring that we continue to focus on good governance and financial sustainability.

“A vital part in achieving this is continuing to deliver our pioneering Asset Management Strategy 2018-30, taking an agile approach to how we use the canals and being able to demonstrate the broad public value that Scotland’s canals deliver for us all.”

Andrew Thin, Chair ofScottish Canals

Scottish Canals’ Environment Strategy 2015-25 is also a key element in the delivery of the three-year plan, defining a clear route to delivering sustainable benefits for customers, the canal network and wider environment. Taking steps to reduce Scottish Canals’ own carbon emissions through increasing the proportion of electric vehicles and supporting active travel through the provision of e-bikes, tackling the invasion of non-native species on the canal, and encouraging low carbon travel along towpaths are just some of the ways Scottish Canals will achieve this.

Health inequality remains a key challenge that Scottish Canals will continue to invest in over the course of the next three years, building on the successes of North Glasgow’s transformation to ensure the canals not only continue delivering greater public value for the people of Scotland but inform policy decisions that lead to better health outcomes for those living next to the canal.

Through continued partnership working, engaging with communities, and investing in canal infrastructure and the regeneration of rural destinations along the canals, Scottish Canals is confident it can do more to evidence the impact of canals socially, environmentally and economically.

With the core purpose continuing to focus on maximising navigation, accessibility, and value of the canal network, the 2020-23 plan also includes a commitment to preserve the integrity of Scottish Canals’ portfolio of 4100 assets through continued delivery against the Asset Management strategy 2018-30.

The Corporate Plan aims to build on the success of a recent economic impact study, which showed the canals have generated £1.53bn of investment on and around their banks since 2002. This will be achieved by creating an ‘Open for Business’ guide for potential partner organisations, strengthening existing relationships and creating new partnerships with public, private and third sector organisations around the world, specialising in areas from environmental issues to global tourism.

Catherine Topley, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals said: “I am delighted to launch our Corporate Plan 2020-23, which sets out an ambitious vision for Scottish Canals to create world-class waterways over the next three years.

“From investing in the canal infrastructure, our tourist attractions and rural destinations to showing how they help tackle health inequalities in some of our most disadvantaged communities, we can ensure that our canals continue to deliver great public value for the people of Scotland.

“Whilst our plan launches in uncertain times for all, at Scottish Canals we are confident we can achieve our ambition to ensure Scotland’s inland waterways continue to thrive, providing places to play, work, study and live for many years to come.”


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Kimberley Manderson at Scottish Canals, on 07976 526 694 or email

Scott Lamond at Scottish Canals on 0707976 524446 or email


Scottish Canals’ notes to the editor:

  • 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.
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the 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 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems such as flood mitigation and water control in urban areas.
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22 million visits per year. See  for more information

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