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Environment Protection: Transport

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 14 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to promote walking and cycling along routes of the canal system (a) throughout the UK and (b) in London. (244858)

British Waterways works with a wide range of partners to promote walking and cycling, such as local authorities and Sustrans. It actively promotes walking and cycling on its towpaths throughout England and Wales through its website Waterscape as well as through an on-going promotional campaign to encourage people to use their local canals.

My Department is currently carrying out a review of the Government's waterways policy document Waterways for Tomorrow. The revised strategy will highlight the public benefits that our canal network can provide in terms of health and recreation and will consider opportunities for further promoting walking and cycling. We are liaising with the Department of Health and the Department for Transport (DFT) through the inter-departmental group on inland waterways to promote the use of the canal network in healthy living campaigns and sustainable transport initiatives respectively.

DFT has been promoting walking and cycling to local authorities in England (excluding London) through the Local Transport Plan process since 2000. The Mayor of London is responsible for walking and cycling routes in London. The October 2007 report by the Inland Waterways Advisory Council (IWAC) on Waterways for Tomorrow stated as an important achievement "Funding from local authorities has helped to improve towpaths for walking and cycling". In addition, many of the DFT funded 18 cycling demonstration towns and three sustainable travel towns together with match funding from these local authorities are developing canal towpaths for walking and cycling.