A towpath survey across Warwickshire is to be carried out as part of a new five-year county council waterways strategy.
It is hoped that the findings from the £50k project will help turn the canals and rivers into sustainable transport routes, important wildlife habitats and a tourist attraction for the region.
Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet approved the request for £50,000 to pay for the survey at their meeting yesterday (Thursday).
Cllr Heather Timms (Con, Earl Craven), the portfolio holder for environment, climate and culture, said: “We want to contribute to the county’s economic vibrancy by promoting the waterways as a tourist attraction and as a growth generator for the visitors economy.
“They are green spaces and wildlife habitats which are worthy of attention and protection. We really want to present the waterways as sustainable transport routes for walking and cycling.
“The county-wide towpath survey will give us the basics for starting to understand how we improve our signage and make it more accessible.”
Key aims and ambitions have been highlighted as part of the strategy and these include improving public health and wellbeing via waterways-related activities and ‘family fun’ events and further exploring and sharing the history of the waterways.
It is hoped to draw up a calendar of events and activities to attract families to the waterways while extra funding will be sought to improve towpaths and public areas including better lighting to support community safety. Improved signage and maps will show clear routes to and from nearby communities and their facilities/attractions.
In her introduction to the strategy document, Cllr Timms said: “The waterways network - which passes through all five districts and boroughs - is a massive asset for wellbeing, ecology and tourism as we develop post-pandemic recovery plans. The strategy will also address issues around the impact of climate change on natural habitats and species diversity.
“Our waterways have connected people and places throughout history - and will continue to do so. Once main arteries for transporting goods, they are now used primarily for leisure, and provide important wildlife habitats.
"We must protect and promote them as vital assets for communities across Warwickshire, both now and for future generations.”