ONE of this country's most precious yet arguably undervalued assets is its waterways, so news of a £1 million funding boost for our canals is to be welcomed.

It was announced yesterday that the Scottish Government would contribute £500,000 towards the development of a new visitor centre at the giant Helix development near Falkirk and £450,000 for improvements to the Pinkston Watersports complex in Port Dundas, Glasgow.

It promises to be money well spent. Scottish Canals, the body in charge of the nation's 137-mile network, says that regeneration and development of the canal corridors over the past decade has stimulated inward investment into waterside communities, bringing in new jobs and homes and boosting both national and local tourism, resulting in a three-fold return on investment.

Loading article content

The two latest projects will undoubtedly enhance that proud record. And while the economic arguments are solid, the less tangible benefits of a boost to local morale and sense of wellbeing should not be underestimated. The key to continued progress is in the locks.