Active travel and low carbon transport

Our canals and river network can help us to move both ourselves and freight around in more sustainable ways.

Around a fifth of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from road transport. In order to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the UK urgently needs to improve the country’s active travel infrastructure to promote walking and cycling and reduce reliance on road travel.

Our towpaths offer appealing, traffic-free active travel routes to almost 9 million people living within a 10-minute walk of our canals and rivers 

Top investment priority

In July 2020 the Climate Change Commission recommended that 'infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely' be one of the top five investment priorities for government in the months ahead.

Find out how we're improving towpaths around the country to enable more active travel

Find out how you can use our towpaths to cut your emissions


Moving freight on our larger canals and rivers remains a green alternative, which could remove hundreds of articulated lorry journeys from the roads.

Our canals were originally built to transport goods around the country. Although freight is no longer the main purpose of our waterways, there continues to be a role for freight by water.

Wherever we can do so cost effectively, we enable freight on our larger waterways. In recent years we've focused on the aggregates, container, waste and recycling sectors.

Last date edited: 5 November 2021