The Canal & River Trust 2020/21 Annual Report and Accounts document a year dominated by Covid-19, from the pandemic’s operational and financial impact on the Trust, to the lifeline the waterways and towpaths provided throughout for millions of people across England and Wales. The Canal & River Trust 2020/2021 Annual Report also looks ahead to the 2021/22 Government Grant Review, and demonstrating the waterways’ benefit to the nation.
The Trust’s income was £215.4 million in 2020/21 (2019/20: £216.1m), reflecting the actions taken in recent years to ensure that its income, vital for looking after the ageing waterways infrastructure, is secure. Whilst overall spend on charitable activities decreased year-on-year by £10.8m to £183.3m, partly the result of provisions for Toddbrook Reservoir made a year ago, underlying expenditure on core maintenance, repairs and infrastructure works continued to grow.
There was a small decrease in the contribution from boating, moorings and waterway-related businesses to just under 19% of income in 2020/21. This, in part, reflects the support the Trust gave to boating business and charitable partners during the pandemic and the granting of a one-month licence extension to private boat owners in light of the disruption to navigation in 2020.
Although maintenance works in the early part of the year were halted as the Trust responded to the immediate risks of the new virus by delivering essential emergency works only, the charity adapted its way of working and a full programme of winter repair works was completed.
The challenges in 2020/21 did not stop at the pandemic, with extreme weather and floods continuing to cause emergency works, with a breach on the Aire & Calder Navigation outside Goole in December, followed by Storm Christoph early in the new year causing extensive damage across the North West. This coincided with the year-long re-build of Figure of 3 Bottom Lock, damaged during flooding in early 2020.
In total, extreme weather events cost the Trust over £5m in unplanned works. The Trust has taken considerable steps forward in the stewardship of its reservoirs, with a strengthened team and a major review of all high-risk assets (with a high consequence of failure) that will lead to a significant uplift in planned expenditure to further strengthen their resilience over the next few years.
Download the full report: Canal & River Trust 2020-2021 Report
Read another Canal & River Trust related article: Canal & River Trust wages battle to overcome invasive weeds on the Lancaster Canal