Fears have been raised over the future of Wiltshire’s canal network amidst Canal and River Trust funding cuts.

Richard Parry, a chief executive at the Canal and River Trust (CRT), says canals across the country could deteriorate if the government does not invest in maintaining them in the coming years.

Several canals run through Wiltshire, including the Kennet and Avon and the Wilts & Berks, and the waterways provide some of the county’s most popular tourist attractions, like Caen Hill Locks.

While Mr Parry says canals are being used for leisure more than at any other time in their history, the CRT is facing cuts of £300 million from 2027.

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The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Caen Hill Locks at the Kennet and Avon CanalCaen Hill Locks at the Kennet and Avon Canal (Image: SWNS)

This could impact its ability to maintain the nation’s canal network, putting it at risk of closure or neglect.

In Wiltshire, loss of funding and rising costs have already seen cuts to services, including the removal of dog waste bins along the towpath.

Mr Parry said: “Their future is under threat.

“We can invest to make these historic waterways more resilient… 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.”