Freight could make a canal comeback

Commercial shipping was once a common sight at Lock 16 in Camelon.
Commercial shipping was once a common sight at Lock 16 in Camelon.
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They are the waterways that have enjoyed a spectacular rennaisance in the past ten years and attract visitors from across the country.

But the Union and Forth & Clyde canals that flow through the Falkirk district could now have a commercial future as well as being tourist attractions.

Freight has not been transported on the waterways for at least 50 years.

Transport minister Keith Brown has announced a new round of grant awards to encourage more freight to be taken off Scotland’s roads on to its network of railways and waterways, in a bid to relieve pressure on busy trunk roads and help the environment.

He said: “We realise that moving freight by rail or inland waterways isn’t always the most cost-effective option, and this funding bridges that gap.

“Our recently announced canals policy identifies the importance of encouraging freight onto our canals. We look forward to working with companies in the future to maximise the role that our railways and waterways can play in freight transport.”

A spokesman for Scottish Canals, which manages Scotland’s inland waterways, told The Falkirk Herald that trial freight shipments have already taken place on the Caledonian canal in the Highlands, and that it was looking into the possibility of rolling these trials out to other parts of the network.

He added: “We do believe there is a market in other parts of Scotland, but it is too soon to be able to say exactly what shape this will take.”