Canal workers make history with Green Flag award
MACCLESFIELD Canal has become the first ever canal to be given the coveted Green Flag Award.
The status traditional celebrated quality green spaces such as parks, cemeteries, universities, shopping centres and community gardens.
But work to preserve the 26-mile waterway, which runs from Marple to Kidsgrove, wowed judges so much that they deemed it worthy of the accolade.
Praise was poured on the Canal and River Trust, the charity which manages the nation’s network of 2,000 canals and rivers, and its local branch, Manchester and Pennine Waterway, for its efforts to build relationships with volunteers and commu- nity groups to help look after the canal.
Macclesfield Canal, which opened in 1831, was announced as one of 239 parks and green spaces across the North West to be able fly a Green Flag.
Previous local winners are Tegg’s Nose Country Park and Bollington Recreation Ground.
The Canal and River Trust is to spend £130,000 on new moorings at William Street to boost tourism.
The 84-metre pontoon near to the Buxton Road bridge will enable boaters to be within walking distance of the town centre.
There are also plans improve the towpath and access to the canal from Buxton Road.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, praised Keith Sexton and David Baldacchino from Manchester and Pennine Waterway for breaking new ground.
He said: “This is a fantastic achievement, and helps to set new standards of excellence across our entire canal network.
“Our aim is to encourage other canals to take up the challenge now and to seek Green Flag status via the same rigorous assessment process.
“I’m delighted this independent external validation has confirmed our success in realising this goal.”
The Green Flag Awards are judged against eight strict criteria, including environmental standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.
In their feedback report the judges state: “The Trust is putting much effort into developing community engagement with the waterways.
“On the Macclesfield this includes ‘ Welcome’ volunteers and a number of volunteer work groups and adoption schemes: Manchester and Pennine Waterways leads the field in developing formal adoption groups.”
●● Canal and River Trust volunteer Keith Sexton (left) and waterways manager Dave Baldacchino with other trust workers and their coveted Green Flag Award