We are celebrating after achieving Keep Britain Tidy’s coveted Green Flag Award status for 22 miles of the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.
The good news comes in the same month as we celebrate our fifth anniversary of taking over responsibility for the nation’s 2,000-mile network of canals and navigable rivers from British Waterways. This accolade cements a record-breaking year for us, with more community involvement, more volunteers and increased donations to its vital work. Leisure boating is at an all-time high too, with over 33,500 boats licensed to use the national canal network – more than at the height of the Industrial Revolution.
The award-winning section of the Shropshire Union Canal stretches from Audlem to Barbridge Junction and then connects to Middlewich. This now joins six other quality-marked waterway green spaces around the country including the Peak Forest Canal (12 miles), Macclesfield Canal (26 miles), River Lee Navigation in London (4 miles), Chesterfield Canal (14 miles) and Marple Aqueduct, England’s highest aqueduct and Swansea Canal.
The waterway is among 219 parks and green spaces across the North West region judged to be some of the best green spaces in the country. (The highest regional total outside London). For the third year running, canals join a range of parks, cemeteries, universities and community gardens which have met the high standard needed to receive the Green Flag, Heritage or Community Award, in what is another record-breaking year for the award scheme.
This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.
The Green Flag assessment report praised the contribution made by volunteers to keeping the canal in great shape for visitors. "Litter is picked on a daily basis in popular areas, with volunteer help and litterbins are emptied when needed. Building and structure cleaning schedule is good," it reported.
"Community engagement and volunteering is very strong on this Waterway. The award-winning renovation of Nantwich Aqueduct is an excellent case study of partnership work with the local community, town council and local companies."
Wendy Capelle, our local waterway manager, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded Green Flag status for this key stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal. The award is a great boost for visitors, signalling that this canal is a high quality public place for people to use and enjoy - and a fitting recognition of all the hard work by our staff and volunteers.
"Volunteer groups SUMBA, Small Task Team Volunteers, Audlem ADAPT Lock 15, Audlem Volunteer Rangers, Volunteer Lock Keepers (Cholmondeston/Audlem), Shropshire Union Canal Society and members of the North Wales & Borders Waterways Partnership have all played a key role in helping us raise standards and achieve this quality mark. We are grateful to all volunteers for giving up their spare time to improve the canal and towpath for everyone’s benefit."
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.
"Each flag is a celebration of the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. The success of the scheme, especially in these challenging times, demonstrates just how much parks and waterways matter to people."