The planned restoration of historic canals could provide a major boost to the West Midlands economy but has been threatened by Government cuts, according to a local MP.
Michael Fabricant (Con Lichfield) said the proposed restoration of the Lichfield and Hatherton canals would bring in investment across much of the region.
But, in the Commons, he warned that cuts to the budget of British Waterways were threatening to stop the proposals in their tracks.
The MP was leading a debate into the future of Staffordshire's canals, following reports that the Treasury is to reduce the Department for the Environment's budget by up to £270 million.
He said: "People come from around the world to marvel at our network of 2,500 miles of canals while millions of people in this country use them daily for recreation, sport, to travel to work and for a breath of fresh air.
"They play a key role in regenerating our towns and cities providing a heart around which regeneration can start.
"The Minister needs only to go to Manchester or Birmingham to see for himself how the canals are central to millions of pounds worth of regeneration."
Mr Fabricant said he now feared for the future of the Lichfield And Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. He said: "The trust was founded in 1988 to restore its two canals but with the wider purpose of pushing forward the regeneration of the underused and decaying canals north of Birmingham.
"By restoring two canals, each about seven miles long and abandoned in the 1960s, the trust could bring great benefits to Lichfield, and other towns, and provide appealing connections to the main canal network.
"Nearby canals are almost too popular at peak times and there is a clear need to reopen those that are closed and regenerate those which are underused and neglected.
"It has fallen to the volunteers to initiate and carry forward this work, raising the funds themselves with very little support from official bodies.
"British Waterways has been supportive in times of difficulty, but does not have the funds, nor the resources following the recent funding cutbacks."
Responding for the Government, Mr Shaw said the Government agreed that canal restoration needed funding, but so did many other things.
He said: "Given the fact that more people than ever before use the waterways, we must wrestle with the issues of competing demands on the public budget."