Scotland's canals

Responsibility for canals in Scotland is devolved to Scottish Ministers. The Scottish Government sponsors Scottish Canals, the public corporation which manages our canals.

Vessel moored on the Crinan Canal

On 2 July 2012 British Waterways became a self-standing Scottish public corporation with a board wholly appointed by Scottish Ministers. This followed the transfer of British Waterways’ activities in England & Wales to a newly formed charity. British Waterways continues to operate in solely in Scotland, trading as “Scottish Canals”.

Scottish Canals receives grant-in-aid from the Scottish Government to perform its statutory duties and to help progress new initiatives. Scottish Canals also generates income from its commercial activities.

Scottish Canals’ primary responsibilities are to maintain Scotland’s 137 mile canal network (comprising the Caledonian, Crinan, Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals) and to act as navigation authority for the canals and 4 lochs in the Great Glen which are linked to form the Caledonian Canal. The canals are Scheduled Ancient Monuments and there are 22 Sites of Special Scientific Interest on or within 500m of a canal.

Scottish Ministers appoint the board of Scottish Canals. The board comprises Dr Jon Hargreaves (Chair), Geoff Aitkenhead, Tanya Castell, Martin Latimer and Duncan Sutherland. The Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, Steve Dunlop, has also been appointed to the board.