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Campaigning for the waterways

Campaign with us to protect and restore Britain’s 7,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers.

Fund Britain’s Waterways

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of sufficient funding, and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

It is vitally important that publicly-owned waterways continue to receive an adequate level of funding from government.

This includes the 2000 miles managed by Canal & River Trust, the 630 miles run by the Environment Agency and those operated by Scottish Canals.

With access to towpaths and river paths being free, waterways are ideal for people to use for walking, boating, jogging, cycling, canoeing, fishing, paddleboarding, and making journeys to work or for shopping.

Inland waterways benefit everyone including improved health and wellbeing through opportunities for holidays, exercise and recreation. There are also financial benefits to local economies through tourism, employment and regeneration.

IWA is co-leading a campaign supported by over one hundred other organisations from the inland waterways and beyond to convince Government to better fund our inland waterways.  This is IWA’s top campaign, as it is essential for the survival of the waterways as we know them today.

[The photo shows narrow boat Euclid in front of the Houses of Parliament on a campaign cruise in November 2023 – by Kev Maslin, Chasing the Boats]

Preserving Heritage

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

We are working to:

  • Provide guidance
  • Improve protection
  • Engage with communities
  • Champion skills

Sustainable boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

We are campaigning for:

  • 300 charging points
  • More dredging
  • Biofuels
  • Further technologies

Campaign for Waterway Restoration

Over the last 75 years – since IWA was formed – more than 500 miles of waterway have been restored.

IWA is now campaigning for the over 500 miles of waterway that are now actively being restored.

Canal restorations bring benefits at every stage of restoration; most existing restoration schemes are already providing substantial local benefits.


Campaign News

Campaigns near you

Gronwen Wharf on the Montgomery Canal
Burslem Branch Canal Trent & Mersey Canal Conservation Area
Crown Wharf planning protection for heritage
Aberdulais Aqueduct waterways heritage at risk from climate change
Moored boats at Snarestone Wharf on the Ashby Canal
Bridge 25, Middlewich Branch

All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways, co-ordinated by The Inland Waterways Association, considers matters relating to navigable (and formerly navigable) rivers, canals, estuaries and lakes in the UK.

Waterways Directory

Our Waterways Directory covers all navigable waterways – from the derelict Dingwall Canal in the north east of Scotland to the navigable Truro River in Cornwall.

It includes information on navigable and formerly navigable canals, plus all rivers that were made navigable or used for inland navigation in their natural state. Waterways are listed alphabetically and data can be filtered by different subjects. The information given for each waterway includes: length (in miles and kilometres); how much is currently open to navigation; details of the navigation or harbour authority or other responsible body; whether a right of navigation exists; and any Maritime and Coastguard Agency classification for the waterway.

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We would love to keep you updated about the vital work we do and our fundraising activities. If you would rather not hear from us, or would like to change how we contact you, please get in touch. Just call 01494 783453. You can update your preferences at any time.