Three Beaches in South Down Win Blue Flag Status
The scenic drive along the Mourne Coastal Route will this year be complimented by three beaches which have received an internationally-recognised Blue Flag award for quality. The awards, which recognise first class facilities and the highest standards of water quality, were presented to Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield during a ceremony held in Portstewart on 20th May.
Ten Northern Irish beaches in total will have the right to fly a Blue Flag, with Benone on the north coast celebrating 25 years as an award-winning beach. The three South Down Beaches will also fly Seaside Awards, a UK-wide award that make a distinction between the facilities at resort beaches and those in more rural areas.
Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the environmental charity which administers the awards locally, said
“A Blue flag means excellence; that we can proudly say nearly half of the designated bathing waters in Northern Ireland are world class is quite an achievement. With a further ten receiving Seaside Awards, including for those beaches in more secluded beauty spots, we once again have a fantastic coastal offering for everyone who lives here and loves here as well as our growing numbers of visitors.”
After a difficult summer season last year, with heavy rainfall affecting water quality across Northern Ireland on a number of occasions. This is considered an excellent result, with the highest number of Blue Flags awarded since the water quality requirements were tightened in 2013.
Blue Flag beaches offer the highest standard of visitor facilities including toilets, lifeguards and first aid during peak hours, and disabled access. In order to promote an inclusive atmosphere for families with small children, activities such as windsurfing are zoned and access for dogs is restricted on most Blue Flag beaches.
Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan, said:
“These Blue Flag and Seaside Awards show the dedication that coastal councils and the National Trust contribute to providing first class, safe and enjoyable beaches. The coast of Northern Ireland is an amazing place to visit, and these Awards demonstrate how much work has gone into promoting our excellent beaches.
“The Good Beach Summits, which we initiated in DOE, have helped to improve standards at beaches around our coast. Fantastic progress has been made and I trust that next year even more beaches and marinas will apply for these awards.”
Colin Neill, Tourism NI Board member said,
“Northern Ireland’s stunning beaches are amongst our greatest tourism assets, and keeping them clean and safe is of the utmost importance to us. By driving standards and safeguarding our environment, these awards play a vital role in helping to showcase the natural beauty of our coastline, and in improving the overall visitor experience of incoming tourists. I am delighted that this year Northern Ireland boasts an impressive number of award winning beaches, offering an excellent choice of clean and safe places for our visitors to enjoy this summer.”
With weeks of fine weather in April and May sparking thoughts of a ‘barbeque summer’, beaches around Northern Ireland are gearing up for an influx of visitors. To help everyone find their ideal award winning beach or marina Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Tourism NI have launched a visitor map which lists the facilities offered at each beach and also includes suggestions for activities or attractions to make for a memorable day out. The guide will be available online, via all Tourist Information Centres, at Award beaches and from local councils.