The Canal & River Trust 2021/22 Annual Report & Accounts document a continued rise in use of the towpath with nearly 800 million individual visits across the year and a record summer for boating once the waterways were able to re-open in May 2021 for unrestricted navigation. It is also the second year to be severely affected by Covid-19.
Accounting for variances relating to the pandemic, income for the year remained broadly stable, and the Trust was able to increase the amount spent on core maintenance and repair works to keep the network open, safe and navigable.
In a year that saw both drought and further winter storm damage, once again bringing additional unplanned and costly works, the Report highlights the increasing impacts of climate change and how, with continued support and funding, the Trust’s 250-year-old network is helping to address the national crises in public health, biodiversity and the climate emergency.
Over 160 large-scale works were completed across the year, including repairing masonry and brickwork, fixing leaks, updating and installing hydraulics and electrics, and fitting 132 lock gate leaves handcrafted at the Trust’s specialist workshops.
However, the Trust’s largest spend on infrastructure in 2021/22 was again on its high-risk reservoirs, the oldest in the country, continuing a programme of additional works over the decade to minimise any threat to public safety and to safeguard the vital canal water supply that the reservoirs provide.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, comments: “In a year severely affected by the pandemic, the Trust has demonstrated its resilience to the challenges faced and continued to provide opportunities for the nine million people who have waterways on their doorstep, to experience the wellbeing benefits they offer.
“With the threat of climate change, we must continue to focus funding and resources on increasing the resilience of the canal network and our core purpose of keeping the waterways safe, attractive, accessible and available, for boating and the wide range of other users.
“In doing so, we can help Britain mitigate the effects of a changing climate, from helping to cool cities in summer, to providing low-carbon energy to heat homes in winter and as sustainable transport traffic-free routes through our towns and cities.”
The Report also looks ahead to the review of the government grant, due to complete in 2022/23, for the period beyond 2027 when the current Grant Agreement comes to an end.
Click to download the report in full: Canal and River Trust annual report 2021-22