THE future of Cheshire and the UK's canals and rivers could be under threat following a reduction in Government funding, warns a waterways charity.

The Canal & River Trust, which maintains a 2,000-mile waterway network, issued the stark warning after a more than £300 million 'real terms' cut in grant funding was announced on Monday (July 10).

This represents a 40 per cent decrease, compared to recent levels, when the grant comes into effect in 2027.

The Trust says the reduced funding will 'threaten the future of the nation’s historic canals, leading to their decline and to the eventual closure of some parts of the network'.

Trust chief executive, Richard Parry, said: “The Government has confirmed the value and importance of the nation’s canals and their vital role in our health and wellbeing, for wildlife and nature, and in supporting jobs and the UK economy.

"Yet, at the same time, they have announced a funding decision which puts the very future of canals at grave risk.

"By sharply reducing their investment in the critical work to care for and safely manage this vulnerable national canal infrastructure, the Government is failing to recognise the full cost of sustaining the vital benefits they provide.

"The decision by the Government leaves a substantial funding shortfall which puts decades of restoration and recovery of these much-loved historic waterways at risk.

Mr Parry went on to warn the funding cuts will have a 'potentially devastating impact' on the charity's ability to care for and protect the national waterways network.

The MP for Weaver Vale, Mike Amesbury, has warned he fears this funding cut may threaten the future of waterways in Northwich and Runcorn within his constituency.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

The Labour MP is worried about the River Weaver Navigation which flows between Runcorn and Northwich, and the Trent & Mersey Canal, from Preston Brook to Northwich.

Mr Amesbury said: “I am deeply concerned at the possible threat to the canals and waterways of Weaver Vale which enrich our lives in many ways.

“Many people enjoy getting outdoors and being close to nature by walking alongside or boating on them, with tremendous benefits for their mental and physical well-being.

“Thanks to organisations like Canal & River Trust, wildlife habitats are protected and there’s a boost to our economy as waterways attract visitors from far and wide, generating revenue for local businesses.

"Government must think again and reverse this massive 40 per cent funding cut. We need to cherish and safeguard these invaluable assets for future generations to enjoy."

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey announced the Trust will receive £400 million in funding between 2027 and 2037, along with £190 million between now and 2027, and that it must increasingly move towards alternative sources of funding.

The reduced grant from 2027 will almost halve the value of public funding for canals in real terms compared with recent years.