Scottish Canals has launched a new strategy setting out how the organisation will manage, care for, and prioritise works on the infrastructure of the nation’s 250-year-old waterways between now and 2030 in the face of a £70 million repair backlog.
The strategy, launched today (Thursday 21st June), details how Scottish Canals will use its limited resources to manage the reservoirs, canals, lock gates and bridges in its care, prioritising works that ensure the safety of the public and bring the widest possible benefits for all the people of Scotland.
Scottish Canals receives Grant-In-Aid of around £11 million each year from the Scottish Government for the management of 140 miles of inland waterway and more than 4,100 individual assets ranging from the 200-year-old engineering structures of the Avon Aqueduct and Ness Weir to modern tourism icons like The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies.
The renaissance of these assets over the past 20 years has delivered more than £870 million of investment; created over 5,000 jobs; and resulted in the construction of more than 5,000 houses. In that time, Scottish Canals has also created key income-generating tourism destinations in Falkirk, Fort Augustus, Bowling and Ardrishaig, bringing renewed vibrancy to the communities, contributing substantially to the local economy, and generating income that can be reinvested in Scotland’s canals.
However, each one of these varied assets requires considerable investment to maintain and, despite the organisation working to generate its own income to reinvest in caring for the assets, ageing infrastructure, the growing impact of climate change, and increasing pressure on public finances means that Scotland’s canals now face a repair backlog in excess of £70 million.
The organisation estimates that Scotland’s canals require additional investment of between £6 million and £9 million each year – and have done for a number of years. The Asset Management Strategy sets out a rationale for prioritising which projects and infrastructure Scottish Canals invests its limited resources in to ensure the safety of the public and the long-term sustainability of the nation’s inland waterways.
To ensure the decision making process is as transparent as possible, a new ‘Managing our Assets’ section has been created on the Scottish Canals website. The section features a downloadable version of the Asset Management Strategy as well as information about the projects Scottish Canals is prioritising for 2018/19 and works that have been carried out to-date. The hub can be viewed at www.scottishcanals.co.uk/assets
More information on Scottish Canals’ Asset Management Strategy can be found at www.scottishcanals.co.uk/assets
 Scottish Canals Monitoring Report. www.scottishcanals.co.uk/corporate/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/06/PBA-Final-Monitoring-Report-2012-2015.pdf
 Scottish Canals now generates around 55% of its own income. www.scottishcanals.co.uk/corporate/facts-and-figures/annual-reports-and-accounts/