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Funding for Scotland's canals

24/09/2003

Funding worth £2 million for the regeneration of Scotland's canals was announced today.

Speaking at the World Canals Conference at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in Edinburgh, Transport Minister Nicol Stephen announced the funding boost to British Waterways Scotland which will be used to undertake major repair work on the Caledonian Canal. This is on top of the £8.4 million grant already awarded for this year.

Mr Stephen said:

"Scotland's canals have an important part to play in contributing to the regeneration of nearby communities and our extra investment today signals our commitment to making the most of these valuable assets.

"The fact Scotland is hosting the World Canals Conference this week is further recognition of our success in regenerating our canal network through major projects such as the Millennium Link and the Falkirk Wheel.

"Scotland is devleoping a 'canal culture' that is already helping tourism and the economy as well as starting to regenerate our canal network."

The Minister also welcomed a financial package which is being put together by British Waterways to allow a project linking the Forth & Clyde Canal to Port Dundas in Glasgow to go ahead. The project will cost a total of £5.6 million, with Glasgow City Council contributing up to £2.7 million and confirmation of an expected £2.3 million from European Funds is expected.

Mr Stephen added:

"Putting this funding in place is great news for Glasgow and has the potential to be a major element in kick starting the wider regeneration of this part of the city."

The £2 million funding boost for British Waterways Scotland (BWS) comes from the Scottish Executive's Transport Budget. BWS will use the funding to do a number of major repairs on the Caledonian Canal such as the Muirtown Locks at Inverness, which will clear all the remaining safety backlog arrears on Scotland's canals. BWS is a cross-border public corporation that is responsible for operating and maintaining Scotland's canals. Its activities in Scotlandare funded by a combination of grant support from the Scottish Executive (£8.4 million in 2003-04) and income generated by their commercial activities.

The World Canals Conference is an international organisation that promotes the protection and revitalisation of canal systems. The conference is held annually in Europe or North America. About 170 delegates from around the world are attending the conference being held in Edinburgh this year.Conference delegates will participate in guided tours of canal and towpath projects, as well as visiting scenic, historic and recreational locations alongScotland's canal system.

Last October the Executive launchedScotland's Canals: An Asset for the Future, which focuses on the regeneration, leisure and sustainable development opportunities offered byScotland's canal network.

Scotland's Millennium Link project - led byBritish WaterwaysScotlandand backed by the Scottish Executive - has attracted thousands of additional visitors to the tow paths of the Forth & Clyde andUnioncanals. Visitor numbers to the Falkirk Wheel are also well above target with 400,000 visitors to the Wheel last year and over 29,000 trips through the Wheel in August 2003. Boat movements along theForthandClydeCanalare also up 50% on last year, plus there has been record business done on the sale of moorings.