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The charity making life better by water

Planning a Waterside Shoot

There are lots of things to consider when filming on our waterways, especially as they are open for everyone to use. The hints and tips on this page will help your shoot to run smoothly on the day.

When we receive an application we always consider the effect that filming or photography might have on what we do across the Trust. We have on-going maintenance, heritage and environmental projects, as well as providing a service to the people who use our waterways. Most applications will need to be considered by different departments so allow time for this when submitting your application.

A recce will be required for crews of more than 20 people and if a person or object will be entering the water as part of the action. Where a production company has specific requirements it can be arranged for an appropriate representative from the waterway location to come along to the recce with the Filming Advisor.

Any activity which requires a person or object to enter the water will need a detailed safety and rescue method statement separate to the standard risk assessment, detailing all risks associated with the activity, how the object or person will be getting into the water and how it/they will be getting out again.

If using track and dolly, cranes, cherry pickers or any camera vehicles, please make sure that you notify us and send across an image with dimensions and weight. Motorised vehicles and heavy plant equipment are not normally permitted on towpaths due to weight limits, towpath width and impact on other users. We can check weight limits at specific locations on request.

In order to carry out any fixing, drilling, painting or altering to a Canal & River Trust structure or property you must get our consent prior to your shoot. Many of our sites contain listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments. Our team of heritage advisors will be able to give site-specific advice on what works can and cannot be carried out. The same applies to wildlife on our waterways, which are home to birds, bats, fish and many other animals. If you want to remove tree branches or other plants then our ecologists may need to check the site for nesting animals before you can proceed.

Our waterways are lined with boats, houses and businesses so an important part of planning your shoot will be to identify who the neighbours are and make sure that they are aware that a shoot will be taking place. We recommend that you notify local councils and film offices even if your shoot is only on the canal or river. Canals are like watery roads – we can't just close them as we have paying boat traffic. If you want to restrict or close part of a canal – water or towpath – we will need a minimum of 4 weeks' notice. The more notice the better!

Please be sure to read our filming safety guidelines before you start your application.

Last Edited: 18 February 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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