Stretch of Wigan canal awarded prestigious Green Flag status
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The Leeds & Liverpool Canal, from Liverpool to Wigan top lock, is among the more than 600 miles of the Canal & River Trust charity's 2,000-mile network to hold the international quality mark for parks and green spaces.
Canals are an intrinsic part of the nation’s landscape with the quintessentially British sight of a narrowboat, lock or a humpback bridge familiar to anyone in towns or countryside alike.
The charity said it further demonstrated the important role the 250-year-old canal network played for local communities, bringing nature into the heart of the UK’s towns and cities.
The spread of Green Flags reflects both the increasing importance of the waterways as vibrant green spaces in the nation’s towns and cities and their longstanding value in providing popular, accessible beauty spots across the country.
However, the nation’s canals are facing a dual crisis, with climate change taking a costly toll on the historic network in the form of more frequent extreme weather, and with government recently announcing deep cuts in funding for canals in the future.
Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “These Green Flags showcase the breadth of what the waterways have to offer: free, accessible green space on the doorstep of millions. Our historic canals are places in our towns and cities where people can relax, get close to nature and feel the health benefits of spending time by water.
“Caring for a 2,000-mile canal network is a challenge, with our ageing waterways vulnerable to changing weather patterns, daily wear and tear, and perennial problems like litter and encroaching vegetation. This impressive number of Green Flags is a testament to everyone who works or volunteers with the Trust, including those in the community who play such a vital part in helping to look after their local canal.
“And now we’re facing another challenge, with a significant reduction in our government funding after 2027 recently announced. This will inevitably mean we will not be able to carry out all the work needed to keep the canals available and in working order, risking the benefit that so many communities enjoy from having access to nature on the doorstep.