Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Leeds & Liverpool Canal celebrates Green Flag status

We’re celebrating after a new 35-mile section of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Stanley Lock Flight and Wigan Top Lock has been awarded Green Flag Status.

Group of volunteers holding up Green Flag Award flag

Now in their third decade, the prestigious Keep Britain Tidy awards are given to outdoor spaces that boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent visitor facilities.

A remarkable transformation

The presentation of this award marks a remarkable transformation of the Liverpool end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, which only two decades ago was classified as ‘remainder length' by British Waterways. The opening of the Liverpool Canal Link in 2009 proved a turning point, providing boaters with an amazing leisure destination in the South Docks and re-energising the western end of the country's longest canal.

The growth in the number of volunteers with us has also been a key factor in upgrading the environment, with a strong, dedicated team now keeping the canal and towpath in top condition, supporting Trust staff in providing help to boaters and local communities along its route.

This year we have seen an extra 125 miles added to the 565 miles already designated with the Green Flag environmental quality mark. This includes a 15-mile section of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in East Lancashire between Blackburn and Burnley and several other waterways across the North West

The spread of Green Flags reflects both the increasing importance of the waterways as vibrant green spaces in the nation's towns and cities and their longstanding value in providing popular, accessible beauty spots across the country.

Picture of a canal with a warehouse in the background

Protecting and preserving our network

Daniel Greenhalgh, our North West director, said: “As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we're delighted that over a quarter of our network now holds Green Flag Awards. It's a testament to everyone who works or volunteers with the Trust, including those in the community who play such a vital part in helping to look after their local canal. The Green Flags showcase the breadth of what the waterways have to offer: the growing role canals have as beautiful places to spend time and reap the health and wellbeing benefits of being by the water. And this barely scratches the surface: with waterways offering free, accessible blue and green space on the doorstep of millions, everyone can find their own special place.

“The past decade since the Canal & River Trust's launch has seen a generational change in the number of people volunteering on the canals. The five million hours of time our volunteers have given has helped us achieve incredible feats like the Green Flags that now grace 50 stretches of our waterways, making life better for the communities they run through.

“The latest chapter in the story is only just underway and brings its own challenges, with the 250-year-old canals vulnerable to changing weather patterns. We are calling on the public and the government to continue to support the waterways so we can continue to protect and preserve this incredible network and avert the decline we saw last century.”

Vital green spaces

Commenting on the news that 50 stretches of our waterways have met the Green Flag Award standard, Keep Britain Tidy's Accreditation Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making these waterways worthy of a Green Flag Award.

“Canals and rivers are vital green spaces for communities across England and Wales. These awards are testament to all the hard work of staff and volunteers, who do so much to ensure that they maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

Keep Britain Tidy

Canals are an intrinsic part of the nation's landscape with the quintessentially British sight of a narrowboat, lock or a humpback bridge familiar to anyone in towns or countryside alike. Today, as well as being visited by around 10 million people every fortnight, we are used by around 35,000 boats. We're committed to protecting and preserving the waterways in our care since it was formed in 2012.

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

A full list of Green Flag Award-winning parks and green spaces are available here.

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

Support our work

We need your support to keep canals and rivers alive. Donate today to make a difference

Last Edited: 13 October 2022

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration