80 International Blue Flag and 54 National Green Coast Awards for Ireland
134 Reasons to Visit Ireland’s Spectacular Coastline
*For the press release and full list of the Blue Flag and Green Coast Award beaches 2014 see here
Today, An Taisce announced the International Blue Flag Award and the National Green Coast Award recipients for 2014. A total of 134 awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D, at an awards ceremony held on Skerries South Beach in North County Dublin.
Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister Hogan said, “I am pleased to say that a total of 134 beach and marina awards will be made today. This represents an increase of 15 on the 2013 awards and is testament to efforts of communities, local authorities and An Taisce and the sterling work they do. Results might even have been better except for the devastation of the storms last winter which caused significant damage in some areas.”
76 beaches and 4 marinas were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award representing an increase in 6 Blue Flag awards since 2013. Ms Patricia Oliver, Director Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce highlighted that, “In order to be eligible for the Blue Flag a beach or marina must comply with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management including litter control, environmental education and the provision of information.”
Blue Flags were regained in 5 Local Authority areas. 4 Blue Flags were regained in Portmarnock, Portrane, Donabate and Skerries South Beach in Fingal. Morriscastle in Wexford and Ballybunion North in Kerry regained their Blue Flags after failing to comply with water quality criteria in 2013. In Waterford, 2 Blue Flags were regained in Councellors Strand & Dunmore Strand. Lahinch in Clare also regained its Blue Flag status.
Blue Flag applications were received for 81 beaches in total however 5 beaches were not awarded the Blue Flag due to ongoing works to repair extensive damage caused by the Spring storms. These beaches were Bertra and Mulranny in Mayo, Rossbeigh in Kerry and Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Clare.
54 beaches in Ireland were awarded the Green Coast Award representing an increase in 9 awards. Dog’s Bay in Galway has lost the Green Coast Award due to considerable infrastructural damage at the beach as a result of the storms. Trá gCaorach Inis Oirr in Galway and Kilfrassey in Waterford have been awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time. Speaking about the Green Coast Award, Ms Oliver said, “The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. These beaches 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.”
An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Clean Coasts groups of which there are now over 400 comprised of thousands of volunteers throughout the island. Ms Oliver paid tribute to these groups stating that, “Clean Coasts groups contribute significantly to the protection of Irelands coast, in 2013 over 700 beach cleans took place and these groups removed over 500,000 items of marine litter from the marine environment.”
“Local Authorities, Marina Operators and local communities should be commended for their efforts in achieving Blue Flag and Green Coast award status today” Ms Oliver concluded.
- The Blue Flag is administered in Ireland by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The Foundation for Environmental Education is an international organisation that has been promoting environmental education for sustainable development since 1981. FEE is an umbrella organisation with members in around 60 countries world-wide.
- Blue Flag beaches must be identified bathing waters and are judged against a total of 32 criteria www.blueflagireland.org.
- The Green Coast Award can be awarded to non-identified bathing waters and so expands water quality assessment beyond the legislative requirements set out by the new Bathing Water Directive. These awards go to beaches that have excellent water quality, a five year beach management plan and where the local communities are encouraged to engage in the management of the beach. These beaches may not have the suite of facilities required for Blue Flag status but they are exceptional places to visit. The Green Coast Awards were originally operated as a partnership between some of the east counties and the authorities in Wales. In 2008 the programme was extended to embrace the whole coastline of Ireland.
- For the evaluation of an applicant beach for Blue Flag/Green Coast Award purposes, the beach must comply with the 95th percentile compliance of the above limit values over a 4 year period. This is in accordance with the EU Bathing Water Directive 2006 as well as the recommendation of the World Health Organisation.
- The percentile has to be calculated for each parameter and also met for each parameter. For example, if the 95th percentile is below the limit values for Escherichia coli but not for Intestinal Enterococci then the beach cannot be awarded with the Blue Flag.
- The new Directive concerning the management of bathing water quality (Directive 2006/7/EC) came into force on 24 March 2006 and will repeal the existing 1976 EU Directive with effect from 31 December 2014.
- The Blue Flag programme in Ireland has been the driving force behind improvements in water quality for many years and as an award of excellence the Blue Flag implemented the stricter standards in Ireland in 2012. The microbiological standards of the 2006 EU Directive are almost twice as strict as the 1976 EU Directive band representing a lowering of the risk threshold for bathers to ca. 3% with the more stringent category of “Excellent” water quality being applied.
The Blue Flag programme is funded in Ireland by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government. The Green Coast Award in funded by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government and is supported by Fáilte Ireland and Coca-Cola.