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  • Writer's pictureTallulah

How to report UK canal and lock damage

Canals and locks are vital components of the UK's waterway network, serving as key routes for transportation, leisure, and tourism. They have played a pivotal role in the nation's history, facilitating trade, and connecting communities and to ensure their continued functionality and safety, it's crucial to promptly report any damage or issues that may arise. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the process of reporting canal and lock damage in the UK, identifying responsible authorities, common types of canal and lock damage, their implications, and the role of The Rothen Group team in providing solutions.

Who to report to canal and lock damage to and who is responsible?

Canal & River Trust

The Canal & River Trust is a large charity responsible for maintaining over 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. They are the primary authority to contact for reporting canal and lock damage within their jurisdiction, and the Trust has a user-friendly online reporting system that allows individuals to submit details of damage, including photographs and location information.

The Canal & River Trust is responsible for maintaining and managing many of the UK's historic canals, including the Grand Union Canal, Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and many others. They ensure that these waterways remain navigable, safe, and accessible for boaters, walkers, cyclists, and anglers.

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency oversees navigable rivers in England and Wales, which may include canals connected to these rivers. For canals and locks falling under the jurisdiction of the Environment Agency, such as those on major rivers like the Thames, Severn, or Trent, reporting any damage should be directed to them. The Environment Agency is also responsible for flood risk management, navigation, and environmental protection along these waterways.

Scottish Canals


In Scotland, Scottish Canals manages the country's network of canals and locks. The scenic canal network includes the Caledonian Canal, the Forth & Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal. Their mission is to ensure these waterways are operational, attractive, and sustainable, so if you encounter damage on the Scottish canal system, contact Scottish Canals for reporting and assistance.

Waterways Ireland

For canals and locks in Northern Ireland, Waterways Ireland is the authority responsible for their maintenance and management. If you come across damage in this region such as the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the Lower Bann Navigation, it is important to report it to Waterways Ireland promptly.

Common types of damage and their implications

1. Lock gate damage

Lock gates are critical components of canal systems, allowing boats to navigate water level changes. Damage to lock gates, such as cracks, leaks, or malfunctioning mechanisms, can disrupt navigation and pose safety hazards, so immediate repair is essential to prevent accidents and minimise water loss.

2. Bank erosion

Bank erosion is a common issue along canals. It can result from heavy rainfall, increased boat traffic, or natural processes. Erosion can also lead to path collapse, compromising the stability of towpaths and endangering users. Timely repairs and erosion control measures are necessary to maintain towpath integrity.

3. Water leakage

Water leakage from canals can deplete water levels, disrupt navigation, and harm aquatic ecosystems. Leaks may occur due to deteriorating infrastructure, cracks in canal walls, or damaged valves. Detecting and repairing leaks promptly is vital for conserving water resources and ensuring safe navigation.

4. Vegetation overgrowth


Excessive vegetation growth within canals can impede boat movement and impact water quality. Invasive species like floating pennywort can spread rapidly, causing blockages. Reporting overgrown vegetation helps authorities implement control measures to preserve waterway health.

5. Structural damage

Structural damage to canal banks, retaining walls, or bridges can jeopardise the safety of users and disrupt navigation. Cracks, subsidence, or material degradation must be reported for prompt evaluation and repair.

The implications of delayed reporting

Failure to report canal and lock damage promptly can lead to a range of negative consequences:

1. Safety risks

Damaged locks, towpaths, or structures pose safety risks to canal users, with accidents resulting from unreported damage potentially causing injury or even loss of life.

2. Environmental impact


Water leakage, erosion, and vegetation overgrowth can harm local ecosystems, and delayed reporting may lead to more extensive environmental damage and increased restoration costs.

3. Navigational disruptions

Navigation through damaged locks or waterways becomes challenging and eventually impossible. Delays in reporting affect boaters, impacting leisure activities and commercial transport.

4. Increased costs

The longer damage remains unreported, the more extensive and costly repairs become. Early reporting can help minimise repair expenses.


The Rothen Group – Maintaining, repairing, and restoring canals across the UK


The Rothen Group plays a vital role in repairing canal and lock damage. As a trusted contractor specialising in waterway maintenance and restoration, we offer a range of services to address damage and ensure the longevity of the UK's canals and locks.

Our service begins with a comprehensive assessment the of canal and lock damage, which ensures our team identify the extent of the issue to formulate an effective repair strategy. Our skilled teams are equipped to undertake a wide range of restoration and repair projects. Whether it's repairing lock gates, stabilising eroded banks, or controlling vegetation overgrowth, we provide the expert solutions needed.


As canal repair specialists, we always emphasise the importance of preventive maintenance to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Regular inspections and maintenance by our team can help prolong the lifespan of waterway infrastructure, and we collaborate closely with waterway authorities, local communities, and conservation groups to ensure our waterways can be used and enjoyed by everyone.

Through the expertise and commitment of our team the solutions needed to address canal and lock damage are readily available, to find out more contact our experienced team today.

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