June 7th, The Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links: Today, An Taisce announced the International 25th Anniversary Blue Flag Awards and the National Green Coast Award recipients for 2012. The awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D and Mr. Jan Eriksen, President of FEE at an awards ceremony held in The Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links.
From the spectacular beaches of Donegal in the north west to the welcoming beaches of Wexford in the sunny south east Ireland’s award beaches have something to offer everyone with; excellent water quality; lifeguarded swimming areas; world renowned surf and long sandy shores - 143 reasons to visit Ireland’s beaches.
Blue Flag – 25th Anniversary
The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised eco-labels. The 84 beaches and 3 marinas that have achieved this accolade met a specific set of criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education and beach management. As a pre-requisite, the bathing water at Blue Flag beaches must meet the highest standards of bathing water quality. The numbers of Blue Flags awarded in Ireland this year has increased by 3 making the number an all time record high.
Claycastle and Youghal front strand in Cork both lost their flags after failing to meet the water quality criteria. Mullaghmore in Sligo could not be awarded the Blue Flag as there were ongoing issues where livestock are roaming on the main beach area creating an unsafe environment for beach users. Rush South was not awarded the Blue Flag because of non-compliance with water quality criteria. Malahide beach was not awarded the Blue Flag because of safety concerns.
Dollymount in Dublin City has regained its Blue Flag after losing it in 2011. Downings in Donegal was awarded the Blue Flag for the first time since 1999. Skerries South and Donabate in Fingal were awarded the Blue Flag for the first time since 1995 and 2007 respectively. The Three Sisters Marina in New Ross, Wexford had been awarded the Blue Flag for the first time.
The Green Coast Award
Green Coast Awards go to beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and good beach management. They may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status however they are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity.
The following beaches have lost the Green Coast Award due to non-compliance with water quality criteria; Ballycastle in Mayo; Claycastle and Red Strand in Cork; Annestown and Newtown Cove in Waterford, Cullenstown in Wexford and Rush South in Fingal.
Renvyle in Galway and Guillamene Cove in Waterford have gained Green Coast Awards. Arklow South in Wicklow and Dollymount in Dublin City have regained its Green Coast Award after losing out in 2011. Fountainstown in Cork has been awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.
Patricia Oliver, An Taisce, speaking at the awards said, “We are delighted in this, the 25th anniversary year of Blue Flag to announce a record 87 Irish Blue Flag sites. The continuing high standards of our beaches are testament to the hard work carried out by Local Authorities throughout the year to improve water quality and provide clean, safe beaches for everyone to enjoy. The announcement of 56 Green Coast Awards is fantastic and I would like to commend the many Coastcare groups that care for Ireland’s wonderful beaches, through actions such as community beach cleans and marram grass planting.”
Speaking at the awards Minister Hogan said, “The increase in the number of blue flags in 2012 is very welcome and is due to the combined efforts of the Local Authorities and coastal communities on the ground as well as those in the wider catchment who are playing their part in working to improve water quality.”
Jan Eriksen speaking at the awards said “On its 25th anniversary, Blue Flag is proud to look back on years of quality, safety and responsibility. It’s growth is a sign that this programme still has a bright future. We are delighted to be celebrating this event in Dublin and we look forward to many more positive years for Blue Flag in Ireland and around the world. To further its innovation, Blue Flag has just launched its worldwide Blue Flag phone application for androids and i-phones”