Warning as Surrey canals 'under threat' despite more walkers, runners and cyclists enjoying them

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-Credit: (Image: SWNS)

Stunning images provide a unique look at Britain's glorious canal network which is at risk of being 'lost' due to government funding cuts, including the picturesque waterways in Surrey.

But there are fears the canals could become neglected or lost with the Canal and River Trust facing funding cuts of £300 million from 2027. The Trust says the cuts will impact their ability to maintain the nation's historic and picturesque canal network - putting it at risk of closure, including the canals in Surrey.

Campaigns manager for the The Canal and River Trust Alex Patterson said previously the nation was living though "a second golden age of canals".

Water gates on Basingstoke Canal at walk path in Goldsworth Park near St John village in Woking, Surrey
Basingstoke Canal looks beautiful whatever the weather -Credit:Getty Images

He added: "In the last four years, there's been a 30 per cent increase in people using canals - for leisure, for boating, angling, walking, cycling, running, paddle boating. It really is a constant task to maintain that network and is absolutely critical that we do."

The Canal and River Trust say there are more boats on the canal network than at the height of the Industrial Revolution as it provides green space by water and access to nature to more than 10 million people each year. As well as this the trust's canals support 80,000 jobs and contribute £1.5 billion annually to the economy.

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal and River Trust, said: "The canals were the nation's first industrial transport network, connecting mining and mill towns with the great city docks of the age."

"At 250 years old they are still playing a critically important role in the nation's infrastructure, in water supply and flood mitigation; they are on the doorstep for millions, ready-made to meet key government targets around access to nature and provide the wildlife corridors that are essential for biodiversity.

"They are used for leisure by more people than at any time in their history, supporting businesses and jobs across the country. But their future is under threat. The storms this winter caused damage totalling millions of pounds, with towpaths washed away and larger asset failures, land slips and burst culverts. We can expect more to come as climate change brings more extreme weather. We are at a juncture.

"We can invest to make these historic waterways more resilient and contributing to national challenges such as water security; or we can see a slow decline, as characterised the canals of the mid-20th century.

"We believe the new government will need and want an active partnership to keep our network of canals safe and open, delivering benefits to communities up and down the country, and we will continue to make the case for the funding necessary to secure their future."

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