The Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire has become the first ever canal to be awarded Keep Britain Tidy’s coveted Green Flag Award - the mark of a quality green space.
The good news comes in the same month that we celebrate our third anniversary of taking over responsibility for caring for the nation’s 2,000 network of canals and navigable rivers from British Waterways.
The 26 mile Macclesfield Canal is one of 239 parks and green spaces across the North West who today are proudly flying a Green Flag Award, after being judged to be some of the best in the country. In total, 1582 parks, cemeteries, universities, shopping centres and community gardens in the UK have met the high standard needed to receive the Green Flag Award or the Green Flag Community Award, in what is another record-breaking year for the award scheme.
The Green Flag Award scheme is also extending internationally, including Holland, Australia and New Zealand. And, for the first time this year, three parks in the United Arab Emirate of Abu Dhabi have achieved their Green Flag Award.
The Green Flag Awards are judged by an army of more than 700 green-space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including environmental standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.
In their feedback report on the Macclesfield Canal, the judges state: “There are perceptible changes in culture within the Canal & River Trust compared with the British Waterways of a few years ago. There is a developing sense of a genuine joint effort between the Trust and the community in looking after the Macclesfield Canal. The importance of both the built and natural heritage of the waterways are now high on the Trust’s agenda.
“The Trust is putting much effort into developing community engagement with the waterways. On the Macclesfield this includes ‘Welcome’ volunteers and a number of volunteer work groups and adoption schemes: Manchester & Pennine Waterways leads the field in developing formal adoption groups.”
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, congratulated the local team from the Manchester & Pennine Waterway, led by Partnership member Keith Sexton and waterway manager David Baldacchino, who have broken new ground for the Trust.
He said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the Trust and the Manchester & Pennine Waterway Partnership, and helps to set new standards of excellence across our entire canal network. Our aim is to encourage other canals to take up the challenge now and to seek Green Flag status via the same rigorous assessment process.
“The Green Flag award embodies our belief that living waterways transform places and enrich lives. I’m delighted this independent external validation has confirmed our success in realising this goal.”
International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme. All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the thousands of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”