Scottish Canals Framework Document


5. SC is to contribute to the achievement of the SG's primary purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth by aligning its aims and objectives with the SG's published Economic Strategy and National Performance Framework.

Statutory Duties

6. SC has responsibility for 220 km of canals in Scotland: the Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland Canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands.

7. SC's major statutory duties are set out in the Transport Act 1962, Transport Act 1968, British Waterways Act 1971, British Waterways Act 1975 and British Waterways Act 1995. Essentially it is required to:

  • provide services and facilities on the inland waterways and port facilities owned or managed by them with due regard to efficiency, economy and safety, (Transport Act 1962, S10);
  • exploit commercial opportunities to raise income in support of its navigation and safety function and the duty to act as if it "were a company engaged in a commercial enterprise in its non-navigation commercial activities." (Transport Act 1968, S134);

8. Scotland's canals (excepting the Monkland Canal) are classed as scheduled monuments of national importance and protected by the requirements of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. There are also 22 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on or within 500m of a canal protected by the requirements of The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.

9. SC are responsible for 21 'large raised reservoirs' which come within the scope of the Reservoir Act 1975. The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 has yet to be commenced. These are subject to an external inspection regime and SC are required to implement recommendations made in the interests of safety.

10. SC is also required to comply with other legislation, including:

  • The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000;
  • The Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000;
  • The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002;
  • The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002;
  • Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003;
  • The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004;
  • Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005;
  • The Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010;
  • The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011.

11. The SG's aspirations for Scotland's canals are set out in the policy document Making the most of Scotland's canals, published in April 2013. It states that:

"Our canals are an asset that we wish to use wisely in order to enhance the future quality of life for Scotland's inhabitants and to help create a more successful, sustainable country. We look to build on the encouraging start made since 2002 in revitalising our canals and in gaining wider public benefits from them. We wish to encourage their full and sustainable development in the future in a way that impacts positively across the widest possible range of people (whilst ensuring that safety issues remain to the fore)."

12. The strategy to achieve this is based on 7 principles which are summarised below:

  • Valuing the heritage of our canals - Scotland's canals should be preserved in good condition, SC should continue to work with Historic Scotland to deliver a canal system that contributes to the commercial and recreational life of Scotland, whilst acknowledging their important industrial legacy.
  • Fulfilling statutory and regulatory obligations - Statutory and regulatory obligations are a fundamental responsibility of the board of SC.
  • Risk management and safety - SC should apply the highest possible standards of care to the management of all canal operations to ensure risks to the public are properly managed. Equally the public should use the canals in a responsible manner.
  • Increasing awareness of the potential contribution which canals can make -The SG wish to see further growth in the numbers of boats navigating our canals, and encourage SC and other parties to work together towards achieving this.
  • Delivering a high quality experience - SC should offer high quality services and adopt an open and honest approach to engaging with all customers and stakeholders.
  • Working through partnership and collaboration - Extensive partnership and collaborative working has proved to be key to the restoration and renewal of Scotland's canals. This should continue at both national and local level to ensure that the momentum is maintained.
  • Monitoring and measuring outcomes - The SG encourages effective monitoring and measuring of outcomes achieved, so that the benefit gained from initiatives can be assessed and demonstrated.