RYA adds voice to call for increased inland waterways funding

Government offer represents ‘serious threat’ to valuable blue spaces
13 Jul 23
A man and two women enjoy the inland waterways

The RYA is standing with more than 40 organisations representing hundreds of thousands of users and supporters of inland waterways in calling for the Government to increase its latest funding offer to the Canal & River Trust (CRT).

The Government has this week announced a long-term funding settlement for the CRT for the period from 2027 to 2037, to follow on from the current grant agreement. While CRT has welcomed a further long-term commitment to the nation’s historic waterways, the amount awarded represents a steep reduction in its funding in real terms over the ten-year period.

Members of the Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) coalition – which includes the RYA – are deeply concerned that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has only gone as far to offer 'over £400m' for the ten-year period from April 2027 which marks a further dramatic cut. 

According to CRT this will equate to at least a 40% reduction of funding in real terms compared to recent levels. The current funding, which has been fixed at £52.6m per annum since 2021, is already failing to keep up with inflation and the physical toll that more frequent severe weather is having on the waterways’ infrastructure.

CRT maintains this presents a serious threat to the nation’s canals and will lead to a decline in the condition of the canal network and the alarming prospect of canal closures.

"The RYA is deeply concerned by the Secretary of State’s announcement this week as it represents a huge real-term reduction in the already under-invested in canal and river network,” said RYA Director of External Affairs Mel Hide.

“These waterways belong to us all and are a valued part of our heritage. This reduction and the inevitable decline in the condition of the network could mean a substantial risk to the freedom of navigation and the vital blue spaces and their biodiversity that benefit millions of people.”

FBW is campaigning to ensure that beyond this Parliament there will be sufficient grant funding to retain the huge environmental, economic and social benefits that Britain’s inland waterways provide. That includes the 2,000 miles of waterways managed by CRT which alone contribute £6.1bn per year in economic and social value.

You can add your voice by lobbying your local MP or joining FBW to help keep our inland waterways alive.