144 Reasons to visit Ireland’s Award Winning Coastline
86 International Blue Flag and 58 National Green Coast Awards for Ireland
An Taisce announced the International Blue Flag Award and the National Green Coast Award recipients for 2015. A total of 144 awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D, at an awards ceremony held on Ballinskelligs Beach in Kerry. Ireland’s long sandy beaches, bustling promenades and rocky shores have something for everyone
Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister Kelly said, “Blue Flags represent excellence. They are a clear signal of quality and are something to be cherished. I am delighted to announce that today we will be awarding a total of 86 Blue Flags; 81 for beaches and five for marinas. A blue flag flying at a particular location means that it has achieved excellent water quality to standards set by European and national Regulations, and a very high grade across a wide range of other criteria”
He added that, “This is testament to the sterling efforts of local authorities, An Taisce and of local communities in ensuring that their beaches meet the standards of excellence required for a Blue Flag or Green Coast Award’,
81 beaches and 5 marinas were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award representing an increase in 6 Blue Flag awards since 2014.
Ms Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager said that, “The Blue Flag is an award of excellence, the beaches and marinas that have achieved this accolade today have complied with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information.”
In Cork, Redbarn and Garretstown have regained the Blue Flag status and in Wexford, Ballinesker is being awarded the Blue Flag for the first time. 5 beaches that failed to comply with the requirements of Blue Flag in 2014 because of storm damage have regained their Blue Flag status, they are Bertra and Mulranny in Mayo, Rossbeigh in Kerry and Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Clare.
Brittas Bay North in Wicklow, Enniscrone in Sligo and Skerries in Fingal have lost their Blue Flags due to failure to comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.
58 beaches in Ireland were awarded the Green Coast Award representing an increase in 4 awards since 2014. Bishopsquarter and Seafield in Clare and Inchydoney East in Cork are being awarded for the Green Coast Award for the first time. In Wexford, Ballyhealy, Ballymoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helens Bay have also achieved the accolade.
Having not met the excellent standard required, Skerries in Fingal, Rathmullan in Donegal, Enniscrone in Sligo and Ballycastle in Mayo did not regain the Green Coast Award for 2015.
“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 440 comprised of thousands of volunteers throughout the island. Ms FitzGerald, paid tribute to these groups stating that, “Clean Coasts groups contribute significantly to the protection of Irelands coast, in 2014 over 800 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 FitzGerald concluded.
SUMMARY OF AWARDS
144 awards presented today, an increase of 10 on last year’s number.
86 Blue Flags are being awarded today in the Republic of Ireland, 81 to beaches and 5 to marinas.
This is an increase of 6 Blue Flags since 2014, representing an increase of 5 Blue Flag beaches and 1 Blue Flag marina.
58 Green Coast Awards are being presented today representing an increase of 4 Green Coast Awards since 2014.
6 beaches will be presented with both the Blue Flag & Green Coast Award achieving dual award status. These are Portmarnock, Portrane and Donabate in Fingal County Council; Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway and Rosses Point in Sligo.
BLUE FLAGS GAINED
Wexford: A Blue Flag is being awarded to Ballinesker for the first time.
Cork: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Redbarn and Garretstown.
Kerry: A Blue Flag was regained in Rossbeigh.
Clare: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point.
Mayo: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Mulranny and Bertra.
Kinsale Yacht Club has been awarded the Blue Flag for the first time.
BLUE FLAGS NOT AWARDED
Blue Flag applications were received for the following beaches but we were unable to award the Blue Flag.
Wicklow: Brittas Bay North did not comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.
Sligo: Enniscrone did not comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.
Blue Flag applications were not received for the following beaches which did have the Blue Flag in 2014.
Fingal: Skerries South Beach did not meet the excellent standard required for Blue Flag status.
GREEN COAST AWARDS GAINED (+9)
Clare: Bishops Quarter and Seafield are being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.
Wexford: Ballyhealy, Ballymoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helen’s Bay are being awarded the Green Coast Award.
Fingal: The Burrow is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.
Cork: Inchydoney East is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.
GREEN COAST AWARDS NOT AWARDED (-5)
Donegal: Rathmullan failed to comply with the water quality standards required for the Green Coast Award.
Sligo: Enniscrone failed to comply with the water quality standards required for the Green Coast Award.
Green Coast Award applications were not received for the following beaches which did have the Green Coast Award in 2014.
Mayo: Ballycastle in Mayo did not comply with water quality standards for the Green Coast Award.
Fingal: Skerries did not comply with water quality standards for the Green Coast Award.
Wexford: Ballinesker did not apply for the Green Coast Award but is in receipt of the Blue Flag in 2015.
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 33 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 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.