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Britain's waterways are chronically underfunded

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

It is vitally important that publicly owned waterways continue to receive funding from the Government. 

This includes the 2000 miles managed by Canal & River Trust, the 630 miles run by the Environment Agency and those operated by Scottish Canals.

With access to towpaths and river paths being free, waterways are ideal for people to use for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing, using boats and making journeys to work or shops. 

Inland waterways benefit everyone including improved health and wellbeing through opportunities for holidays, exercise and recreation. There are also financial benefits to local economies through tourism, employment and regeneration.

Read More

Waterway businesses need emergency government funding

The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown has left the future of many waterways businesses under serious threat. We believe the Government must intervene now to save our waterways sector.

est. 2012

Canal & River Trust

IWA was instrumental in Canal & River Trust receiving a sufficient funding package from Government when the new charity was set up in 2012 to run the waterways previously managed by British Waterways.

£11m needed

Scottish Canals

We are concerned that whole sections of the Lowland Canals could face closure due to lack of available funding, as well as locks and bridges in poor condition and a lack of dredging.

630 miles

Environment Agency

Budget for the navigation function of the Environment Agency is subject to cuts and the 630 miles of waterway managed by them are suffering from asset deterioration and closures.

The waterways need increased funding to provide fully navigable waterways now and for waterways infrastructure to be protected in the future. Only through increased investment from Government will waterways be able to realise their full potential to the whole population, increasing income for local communities and the national economy.

Alison Smedley, IWA Campaigns Manager

Underfunding News

Campaign updates

Waterways heritage

Our waterways heritage is what makes Britain’s canals and rivers special and it must be actively protected – through the local planning system and sufficient funding – for the future.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Waterway businesses

The government needs to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy and what could be a core element of the British stay-at-home leisure and holiday sectors in the coming years.

Waterways affected by HS2

We’re campaigning to protect canals and rivers from the damaging effects of HS2, especially where the tranquillity of the waterways is under threat.