We are celebrating after achieving Keep Britain Tidy’s coveted Green Flag Award status for five canals – and Marple Aqueduct, England’s highest aqueduct.
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 our vital work.
Proudly flying a Green Flag are the River Lee Navigation in London (4 miles), Chesterfield Canal in East Midlands (14 miles of the SSSI section, Stockwith to Retford), the Shropshire Union Canal from Middlewich to Audlem in Cheshire (22 miles, Barbridge Jct to Audlem), Peak Forest Canal in the Peak District (12 miles) and the Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire (26 miles) - all judged to be ‘quality green spaces’.
Marple’s spectacular aqueduct, which carries the Peak Forest Canal over the River Goyt, near Stockport, and the impressive flight of 16 locks, Marple Lock Flight, one of the steepest sections in the country, have also been recognised for the first time with a Green Heritage Award.
These six special waterway sites are among 1,797 parks and green spaces across the UK judged to be some of the best green spaces in the country. 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.
Ian Rogers, our customer services and operations director, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded Green Flag status at six of our waterways. The award is a great boost for visitors, signalling that these canals are high quality public places for people to use and enjoy - and a fitting recognition of all the hard work by our staff and volunteers.
"The Green Flag awards help to demonstrate the high standards we set across our canal network, with more volunteers helping us to care for them than ever before."
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."