British Waterways cares for Britain's historic canals and rivers

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A boat moored in Brindley Place Birmingham

Public consultation into the future of waterways in England and Wales

30 March 2011

British Waterways today (30 March 2011) welcomes the start of a three-month government consultation into the future of inland waterways in England and Wales. The consultation sets out the proposals for a new charitable trust to take over the management of the waterways, including how the organisation will be governed and how it will give communities a greater role in looking after their local canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks.

British Waterways’ chairman, Tony Hales, comments: “The consultation is an important step forward in achieving a long held vision among waterway supporters. Having set out our proposals in 2009 for a ‘national trust’ for the waterways, the Minister is now embarking upon the biggest shake-up of the waterway governance since nationalisation in 1948. I believe the proposals will build upon the recent waterway renaissance to ensure they never again revert to the dereliction and decline that saw part of the network abandoned and filled in during the 20th century.

“Caring for a 200-year old network requires intense management and significant funding. The consultation is an important part of establishing the best framework for the long term security for our canals and rivers, which harnesses community enthusiasm to deliver local priorities. I would encourage all those who have an interest in the nation’s magnificent former industrial waterway network to take part.”

The consultation document is published at


For more information, call the press office on 020 7985 7263.

Notes for editors
British Waterways cares for Britain’s 200-year old network of historic canals, rivers and docks, which attract over 13 million people each year for walking, cycling, angling, boating or simply the peace and quiet. The Government has backed British Waterways’ plans in England and Wales for the canals and rivers to leave state control to become a ‘national trust’ for the waterways. This exciting new charity, which is targeted to be up and running in 2012, will attract greater investment and give local people a greater role in how their waterways are run.