The Canal & River Trust, the nation’s canal charity which cares for 2,000 miles of historic waterways in England and Wales, has published an Election Statement calling on all political parties to recognise the value of the UK’s canals and invest in their future.

The next government will face enormous challenges – from the climate emergency and its impact on nature, water and the environment, to widening inequality and the cost of living and health crises. With the right partnership with government, the Canal & River Trust can continue to play a role in helping to tackle these challenges, safeguarding the huge returns that a resilient canal network can deliver for the nation – valued independently at £4.6bn in annual social value and £1.5bn financial economic benefit.

The charity is calling on all political parties to recognise what the inland network of canals, reservoirs and docks contributes for people, communities and businesses around the country, for nature, for water supply, and for the fight against the effects of climate change. The charity is asking for a commitment to investing in the inland waterways, ensuring that they play their vital role in a greener and more sustainable future.

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “In our Election Statement, we are telling all political parties that our canals matter. They matter not only to the 10 million people who visit them regularly and feel better because of it, but to everyone else as well – because canals enhance the natural environment, they help to mitigate climate change, and they are integral to our future water security and supply.

“Canals are part of our national story – in the past, the present and for the future. They are living heritage, unique in the world. They form an integral part of our national infrastructure, generating immense social, environmental and economic value.

“We, the Canal & River Trust, are proud to hold these irreplaceable assets in trust for the nation. We have a strong record but know that with the right partnership with government, we can do much more.”

The Election Statement is available on the Canal & River Trust’s website: Keep Canals Alive Campaign – update four | Canal & River Trust (