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Funding boost to help preserve heritage of Scottish canals

The additional cash will fund critical repairs on the Caledonian and Union canals.

Locks on the Caledonian Canal will be replaced as part of the repair work (Yui Mok/PA)
Locks on the Caledonian Canal will be replaced as part of the repair work (Yui Mok/PA)

Critical repairs are to be carried out on two historic Scottish canals following an increase in funding for the project.

Work on the Caledonian Canal, which connects Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William, and on the Union Canal, which runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh, will commence next week.

The Scottish Government announced an increase in funding to Scottish Canals, the body responsible for managing the country’s inland waterways, from £11.6 million in 2018/19 to a proposed £15 million in 2019/20.

Repair work will include replacing lock gates at Kytra and Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal.

Transport Scotland said it is making the investment to allow Scottish Canals to maintain historic assets, as well as to assist projects aiming to improve the experience for users.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The additional funding is enabling Scottish Canals to undertake critical repairs which will allow boaters to continue to navigate the waterways for years to come.

“While there may be some short-term disruption, the works are essential to the future of the Caledonian and Union canals.

“These repairs will be in addition to the scheduled maintenance that Scottish Canals will carry out in 2019 as part of its asset management programme – including critical embankment works at Linlithgow.

“Our canal network plays a vital role in tourism and economic regeneration. To secure the future of the network, we intend to increase Scottish Canals funding to record levels in the Scottish budget for 2019/20 in recognition of the challenges faced in maintaining our historic waterways.”

Catherine Topley, Scottish Canals chief executive, said: “This additional funding is fantastic news and will help us to safeguard the incredible heritage assets of Scotland’s canals for future generations to enjoy.

“These 200-year-old waterways play a vital role in local communities and Scotland as a whole, contributing to the marine economy; attracting tourists, visitor spend and investment; as well as stimulating job creation and business growth.

“While managing these historic assets is not without its challenges, we are committed to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and our partners to ensure they continue to deliver benefits for all the people of Scotland.”

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