Scottish Canals has launched its Net Zero Routemap bolstering its commitment to tackle Scotland’s climate emergency.

The canal custodians’ routemap outlines the course the Non-departmental Public Body will take to achieve its target of reaching net zero for direct carbon emissions by 2030.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Minister for Transport met Scottish Canals’ CEO John Paterson to discuss progress the organisation has made and what still needs to be done to achieve this.

Scottish Canals CEO John Paterson said: “In 2021, like so many organisations who attended COP26 in Glasgow, Scottish Canals made a bold commitment to meet this challenge head on and reach net zero for our direct emissions by 2030-15 years ahead of Scotland’s already ambitious target to meet this milestone. 

“Making a promise is just the first step, however, and our Net Zero Routemap provides a clear route to achieving our ambition, both in terms of potential solutions and timescales. We are committed to working with others to deliver essential community resilience and wider emissions reduction, be that through provision of active travel routes along our towpaths, mitigating against flood events through the innovation of the Glasgow Smart Canal, to future plans to support the transition to renewable energy sources on both a local and national scale.”

At the heart of the Routemap lies The Falkirk Wheel, one of Scotland’s most visited tourist attractions, and Scottish Canals’ highest energy consuming site.

The organisation has already invested significantly in the site with office and meeting room space now heated via a heat pump system powered by roof mounted photovoltaic (PV) arrays which were installed in 2022.

This has displaced a gas boiler previously used and is the first step in the decarbonisation of this unique landmark.

Scottish Canals has begun the initial stages of its fleet decarbonisation and invested in electric vehicles, principally panel vans on the Lowland Canals. Electric vehicles now account for over 25 per cent of the organisation’s fleet with further investment being made in charging infrastructure at seven locations throughout the network.

The organisation is looking to expand their electric vehicle (EV) charging network to ensure all employees have access to charging capability, especially in more remote locations. 

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: “I welcome Scottish Canals new Net Zero Routemap to eliminate direct emissions by 2030.

“It is a detailed consideration of how the organisation will decarbonise its own operations, whilst ensuring the adaptation and resilience of Scotland’s historic canal assets, including against the impacts of climate change which we are already seeing.

“Whether it’s maximising the potential of Scotland’s canals to support active travel, unlocking sustainable regeneration through innovation such as the Glasgow Smart Canal, or making the switch to renewable energy sources – I have confidence in Scottish Canals determination to take climate action, all in support of the Scottish Government’s world-leading net zero targets.” 

For full details of Scottish Canals’ Routemap can be found Net Zero routemap  

Dr Olivia Lassiere, Scottish Canals' Environment Manager, Scottish Canals' CEO John Paterson,  Scottish Canals' Chief Operating Officer Richard Millar at The Falkirk Wheel.
Dr Olivia Lassiere, Scottish Canals' Environment Manager, Scottish Canals' CEO John Paterson, Scottish Canals' Chief Operating Officer Richard Millar at The Falkirk Wheel.