For many decades, our canals were largely unloved and sometimes neglected assets. It is a changed picture today, with the canals restored and revitalised. Public awareness and use of Scotland's canal corridors for healthy and sustainable travel has grown considerably in recent years, as anyone who has visited our canals recently can confirm. Effective partnerships have formed between our canals organisation, local authorities and the voluntary sector along the canal corridor, and together they are delivering very positive changes to canal-side communities.
We have come a long way, but there is much more to be achieved.
Devolution and the subsequent transfer of responsibilities to Scottish Ministers first opened up the potential and allowed us to invest in our historic canals. Then in July 2012 we delivered a further major change in how our canals are managed when the remit of the canals organisation was altered from one covering the whole of GB to one solely in respect of its Scottish assets and functions. This very significant milestone means that we now have a board appointed by Scottish Ministers and the policies and activities of Scottish Canals, as it is known, can be wholly focussed on what is best for Scotland. This stands us in good stead in taking forward the next chapter in the life of our canals.
This paper sets out our determination to continue activity to take good care of these historic assets and our aspiration to maximise the benefits that our canals can offer Scotland.
Keith Brown, MSP
Minister for Transport and Veterans