Scottish Canals launches new Asset Management Strategy



The Avon Aqueduct on the Union Canal near Linlithgow is just one of more than 4,100 assets in Scottish Canals’ care

Scottish Canals has launched a new strategy setting out how the organisation will manage, care for, and prioritise works on the infrastructure of the nation’s 250-year-old waterways between now and 2030 in the face of a £70 million repair backlog.

The strategy details how Scottish Canals will use its limited resources to manage the reservoirs, canals, lock gates and bridges in its care, prioritising works that ensure the safety of the public and bring the widest possible benefits for all the people of Scotland.

Scottish Canals receives grant-in-aid of around £11m each year from the Scottish Government for the management of 140 miles of inland waterway and more than 4,100 individual assets ranging from the 200-year-old engineering structures of the Avon Aqueduct and Ness Weir to modern tourism icons like The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies.

The renaissance of these assets over the past 20 years has delivered more than £870m of investment; created over 5,000 jobs; and resulted in the construction of more than 5,000 houses. In that time, Scottish Canals has also created key income-generating tourism destinations such as Falkirk, Fort Augustus, Bowling and Ardrishaig, bringing renewed vibrancy to the communities, contributing substantially to the local economy, and generating income that can be reinvested in Scotland’s canals.

An infographic showing the varied engineering structures, from lighthouses and lock gates to the world’s only rotating boat lift, cared for by Scottish Canals

However, each one of these varied assets requires considerable investment to maintain and, despite the organisation working to generate its own income to reinvest in caring for the assets, ageing infrastructure, the growing impact of climate change, and increasing pressure on public finances means that Scotland’s canals now face a repair backlog in excess of £70 million.

The organisation estimates that Scotland’s canals require additional investment of between £6m and £9m each year - and have done for a number of years. The Asset Management Strategy sets out a rationale for prioritising which projects and infrastructure Scottish Canals invests its limited resources in to ensure the safety of the public and the long-term sustainability of the nation’s inland waterways.

Catherine Topley, interim chief executive officer at Scottish Canals, said: “The launch of our Asset Management Strategy is an important moment for Scottish Canals. With ageing infrastructure, the growing impact of climate change, and increasing pressure on public finances, it’s never been more vital to ensure we manage these 250-year old assets responsibly, competently and for the benefit of the many as well as the few.

“Our Asset Management Strategy sets out a clear rationale for where and when we invest our limited resources between now and 2030, prioritising our works in order to ensure the safety of the public and deliver projects that bring the widest possible benefits for all the people of Scotland.

“Without additional investment, we will continue to see asset decline and asset failures - some of which may be substantial. We simply do not have the resources to do all that we would like to do, and this means we will have to make some hard decisions.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uUd3jaM46o

Scottish Canals’ director of infrastructure Richard Millar introducing the organisation’s new Asset Management Strategy



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