Competing demands on canals create conflict

Scotland’s canal network is becoming ever busier and, as a result, this is causing new conflicts within competing groups of users.

Of the 22 million annual visits to Scotland’s canals each year, 47 per cent are walkers and 21 per cent are cyclists – a three-fold increase compared with eight years ago.

Representatives from fresh and salt water boating, paddling, walking, angling and cycling communities met Scottish Canals’ board members Geoff Aitkenhead and Martin Latimer, as well as Lowland Canals waterway manager Alasdair Smart, to discuss ways of managing competing demands on and along the increasingly-popular Union, Forth and Clyde, and Monkland Canals.

Martin Latimer, who chaired the meeting, said: “Scotland’s canals are busier than ever and play host to a wide variety of users. While it’s fantastic that so many people are enjoying the waterways and towpaths, we recognise that this does create the potential for conflict.

“The Lowland Canals key stakeholder group is a means of working with the groups of the waterways in order to manage the competing demands of everyone who wants to enjoy the canals and their towpaths.

“This was a very productive and positive session.

“I’m confident, working together, that we can ensure all users of the waterways are able to enjoy the fantastic environment of the Lowland Canals to their full extent.”