This year sees urban waterways celebrating a green renaissance. On the doorstep for millions of local people, urban canals offer unparalleled access to green and blue space with significant health and wellbeing benefits. The importance of urban waterways was illustrated during lockdown, when people ‘stayed local' and discovered their neighbourhood towpaths, providing them with free, accessible space to exercise and take some time to unwind.
A remarkable transformation
The Rochdale Canal in Manchester City Centre received Green Flag status with improvements including creating cobbled gardens and planters, increased volunteer litter picks, removal of graffiti, and the installation of safety equipment. Also, in the North West, the Stanley Lock Flight in Liverpool gained the award, whilst in the West Midlands, the Green Flag status has been given to a 4½ mile stretch of the Main Line Canal from central Birmingham to Smethwick.
This marks a remarkable transformation for the canal, with partnership working turning it into a place where wildlife can thrive. The entire Nottingham & Beeston Canal has also been awarded Green Flag status, after the Trust improved habitats for wildlife along the canal in the city centre by planting wildflower verges alongside the towpath and installing floating reedbeds.
Here is a list of all the new locations that have recieved the Green Flag:
- Birmingham Canal Navigation (Revolution Walk)
- Gloucester & Sharpness Canal (Saul Junction)
- Leeds & Liverpool Canal (Greenberfield to Barrowford)
- Leeds & Liverpool Canal (Stanley Flight)
- Macclesfield Canal (Sutton Reservoir)
- Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
- Nottingham & Beeston Canal
- Regent's Canal (Kingsland Basin and Regent's Canal Nature Reserve)
- River Stort (Harlow Mill)
- Rochdale Canal (Manchester Locks 87 to 89)
- Selby Canal
- Tees Barrage Park
- Weaver Navigation (Runcorn to Winsford)
More important than ever to look after our waterways
Julie Sharman, our chief operating officer, comments: “Canals and rivers are special places, cherished by the communities they run through, and providing wellbeing benefits for those who spend time by the water. This year we have seen people discover their local waterways as places to exercise, take a breath of fresh air, and find a moment of peace during the pandemic.
"It's more important than ever to look after them and we are delighted that more and more officially meet the Green Flag standard, especially in urban centres where they provide such valuable green and blue space.
“A Green Flag Award comes after a lot of hard work and I'd like to thank and congratulate everyone who works or volunteers with the Trust, including everyone who does their bit to look after them – from picking up the odd piece of litter on a towpath walk or making a donation towards the work we do. They play a big part in making our waterways welcoming and attractive, and helping them achieve Green Flag status.”
Keep Britain Tidy
Commenting on our success, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.
“It is testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of staff and volunteers that, despite the challenges that went along with record numbers of visitors, the Canal & River Trust has achieved the highest international standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”
The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world. The status recognises that canals and their towpaths meet these criteria and play an important role in the local community, offering great places to relax, exercise, escape for a while, and get close to nature.