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Canals: Expenditure

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) economic and (b) other effects of public spending on canals with particular reference to effects on (i) regeneration, (ii) flood management and (iii) tourism and leisure. (174142)

We fully recognise the economic, environmental and social benefits of the inland waterways and the role they can play in supporting Government objectives in health, recreation, regeneration, social inclusion, conservation of heritage and the environment. British Waterways has been involved in over £2 billion worth of urban and rural regeneration over the last decade and a further £7 billion of waterside regeneration is under way. Its canals also contribute to flood mitigation. In terms of tourism and leisure use, there were 268 million visits to British Waterways last year by boaters, anglers, cyclists and walkers.

DEFRA is working with British Waterways to agree a sustainable and affordable strategy for the waterways while maximising public benefits from the resources available.