Press release

Big Society in action – 2,000 miles of canals and waterways handed over to new charity

More than 2,000 miles of historic canals and rivers across England and Wales are being handed over to the Canal & River Trust.

12 July 2012

More than 2,000 miles of historic canals and rivers across England and Wales are being handed over to the Canal & River Trust today in a move to get communities more involved in their local waterways.

The new charity, whose patron is the Prince of Wales, will give the 10 million people who visit the waterways a greater role in making them cleaner and more beautiful than ever.

To mark its launch, the trust has unveiled its first appeal, 50 projects across the nation that will breathe new life into towpaths and riverbanks.  By pledging money or time people can get involved in projects such as creating new habitat for rare water voles, planting linear orchards for people and wildlife, and restoring neglected towpaths. 

The Canal & River Trust takes over from British Waterways and The Waterways Trust in England and Wales and represents a completely new approach to caring for the country’s waterways. The move, part of the Public Bodies Reform programme, is the largest single transfer of a public body into the charitable sector.

The government is helping the new charity get off to a great start by committing to a landmark, 15-year grant funding agreement as the bedrock to help the Trust maintain its waterways.  In addition, the Trust is funded through commercial income including money from its waterside property dowry, boat licences and moorings.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said:

This government is determined to deliver public services in different, better ways and that’s just what this new charity will do. The Canal & River Trust will empower the very people who know British canals and waterways the best to get involved in how they are run.  This is the Big Society in action - and because it’s also the largest single transfer of a public body into the charitable sector, it’s also a major milestone in our programme to reform quangos.

Read the full press release on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website.

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