Scotland’s Canals Generate £1.53bn of Economic Value

Monday November 18th, 2019

Scottish Canals on Friday (15 November) announced the results of an economic study showing £1.53 billion pound of investment in the canal corridors across Scotland since the re-opening of the Lowland inland waterways in 2002.Government Opportunities

The recently commissioned study by Peter Brett Associates (now part of Stantec) found that the regeneration of Scotland’s canals has acted as a catalyst for an extraordinary £1.53 billion of investment on and around their banks, contributing to the creation of thousands of new houses and jobs.

The study, which was announced at a Marine Tourism symposium held at the Scottish Parliament, showed the revitalisation of Scotland’s canals has attracted a multi-million pound investment windfall in regeneration, tourism and infrastructure projects across the Highland and Lowland canals which has seen 9,078 housing units being built and the creation of 8,415 FTE jobs and 9,218 temporary construction jobs since 2010.

The latest report, which tracks the economic performance of Scotland’s canals between January 2016 and June 2019, reveals that the pace of change is accelerating with a 250% increase in investment both in the last three years compared to the previous period (2010-2015). The last three years alone have seen the creation over 2,100 FTE roles and 4,400 construction jobs – up 6.5% on the previous period.

Between January 2016 and June 2019, the Highland canal network, which includes the Caledonian and Crinan Canals, benefitted from an impressive £61.1 million investment – a 176% increase on the previous period (2010-2015). This saw the creation of a record 626 temporary construction job and the building of 468 new houses.

During the same period, the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals on the Lowlands saw the creation of over 2,000 FTE jobs in addition to 3,784 construction jobs and over 3,000 new homes built, thanks to an estimated £568 million investment.

The results were unveiled at a workshop for the next phase of the Marine Tourism Strategy which will run from 2020-25. Business leaders, tourism experts and industry figures taking part in the event, heard from multiple partners, including Scottish Canals, on how increased vibrancy on and along the water creates jobs and attracts investment.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said:

“Scotland’s canals have always been a catalyst for economic growth and now, more than ever before, our canals are helping to reduce social inequalities, redevelop and reconnect communities – alongside being successful leisure destinations in their own right.

The continued innovation by Scottish Canals has been a big part of this success story, and although there are undoubtedly challenges in maintaining these historic assets, I welcome this latest report which confirms the importance they play in creating new jobs, to new homes and wider regeneration.

To secure the future of the network, we increased Scottish Canals funding to record levels in the budget for 2019/20, in recognition of the challenges faced in maintaining our historic waterways – but also with the knowledge about what our canals have already delivered for Scotland and will continue to do so in the years ahead.”

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