A NEW charity has pledged to make Lancashire’s waterways into a haven for future generations.

The Canal and River Trust has taken over the work of the government-run British Waterways to maintain the 3,000 miles of canals across the country.

The new trust is a publicly owned body which says it will be able to access wider funding channels and be more flexible.

Members outlined their plans at an official launch at Burnley’s The Inn on the Wharf yesterday.

Plans include transforming the waterways into a National Trust-type body where people pay to use the facilities to ensure funds are raised for its maintenance.

Trisha Buzzard, partnership member for the trust, said: “We are trying to get people to belong to the canal trust like the National Trust. We would like to be able to ask people to pay, and use the money for the maintenance of the canals.

“The canals are over 200 years old and they were instrumental to the industrial revolution. We want everyone to celebrate them.”

She said a scheme to adopt a mile of towpath had been a success so far with banks, local organisations and parish councils.

Volunteers have also helped to collect litter, keep monuments clean and manage vegetation.

She said a volunteers’ time was worth more than monetary value.

The trust is made up of 12 regions, which are each hosting launches this week. It will have limited financial support from the government for 10 years, after that, as a charity it is expected to be self sufficient.

Trisha said: “We have funding for 10 years, but when that ends we have to ensure it is viable.”

Stuart Mills, property director of the Trust, said: “We want to get more people interested and involved in looking after their canals. There is massive interest and support in the waterways in local communities and we need to harness that and get people involved in fundraising, giving or volunteering.”

Diane Richardson, who has been a volunteer for 15 months, said: “I think it will open it up to people. Canals are such a wonderful resource for walkers and cyclists.”