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Council spending on cleaning streets, roads and open spaces has seen a significant increase of 5% during the last financial year, amounting to a total of £45,562,532 across Northern Ireland. This comes as a result of deploying extra resources to keep our streets clean. However, the practice of issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for dropping litter and dog fouling has dropped by 13% on last year. As such, there is a greater focus on cleaning up after litterers across the province rather than fining offenders in the first place.

The figures, which were gathered by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful from Council financial statements and records of enforcement, show the true cost that litter passes on to all of us, despite being dropped by only a few. To put the spend figure into context, it’s almost half the amount spent on constructing the iconic Titanic Belfast museum, or the purchase cost of over 100,000 new street bins.

The money used to pay for the clean-up costs comes from our rates, with the average charge to every domestic rate payer in Northern Ireland sitting at just over £57 for last year.

This is particularly interesting given the amount of money being recovered in fines compared to the amount being spent on cleaning. The stand out performer here was Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, who managed to recoup 0.77% of the amount through the payment of Fixed Penalty Notices. This may seem a small number, but it was 37 times more than the Council who recovered the least through fines, thus showing potential to offset some of these costs to the ratepayer. The total raised by Fixed Penalty Notices to be set against the cost of cleansing was just £169,588, less than 0.5% of the total cost.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “Fining litterers is a part of the solution to the global problem of litter and with the real dangers of particularly plastic pollution now widely understood, there is no excuse for littering behaviour. Relying on the hard working Council street cleaning teams, and the army of volunteers who are dedicated to quietly cleaning up their local patch, is no longer acceptable. Thankfully, most people put their rubbish in the bin and many are joining Live Here Love Here and helping create cleaner, more responsible and prouder communities.”

Those penalised for dropping litter has decreased from 3,724 to 3,158 – a worrying trend considering the fact that we are spending more on the clean up operation. Surveys carried out by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful have shown that the percentage of our streets that failed to meet an acceptable standard has remained at 15% from last year. On a more positive note, however, the same surveys indicate that there has been a remarkable 7% rise in streets categorised as completely free of litter. Equally encouraging, more enforcement action has been taken to curb dog fouling on our streets.

Councils are also investing in anti-litter initiatives such as Live Here Love Here, a public engagement campaign supported by nine of the eleven Councils, the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, NI Housing Executive, Choice Housing, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

The full 2017/18 Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will be published at the end of March.

Green Key Launches in Northern Ireland

David McCann   Wed 10 Jan 2018

Local environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is introducing Green Key to Northern Ireland. Green Key is an internationally recognised eco-certification for the hospitality sector, thereby boosting the local tourism and hospitality industry and championing sustainable best practices.

Green Key is one of five programmes run under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and will be locally operated by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The eco-label is currently available in 56 countries across the globe and boasts over 2,700 certified establishments, making it the largest eco-label in the hospitality industry. Green Key criteria are recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – a key indicator of environmental quality assurance – in an otherwise often unregulated market for eco-labels. Green Key is available for hotels and hostels, small accommodations, campsites and holiday parks, conference centres and restaurants.

Dr Susann Power, Operations Manager at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Green Key National Operator states: “A Green Key stands for an establishment’s promise to its guests that by opting to stay with such an establishment, they are helping to make a difference on an environmental and sustainability level. Researchers at the University of Québec have demonstrated that customers generally perceive eco-certifications as favourable and that customer satisfaction levels increase when a hotel has adopted sustainable operations and has been awarded an eco-certification. Green Key is thus a real opportunity for hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland to target those discerning visitors.”

Finn Bolding Thomsen, International Green Key Director at the Foundation for Environmental Education explains: “Green Key is a well-proven and recognised international programme for establishments in the hospitality industry. More and more establishments wish to work with its sustainability efforts, so Green Key is experiencing a growth in number of participating establishments and number of countries with awarded establishments. I am very happy to see the programme now also being launched in Northern Ireland so that interested businesses can obtain local support from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful for the implementation of Green Key.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, a member of the Foundation for Environmental Education, is ideally placed to operate Green Key locally, already managing the Blue Flag, Seaside Awards, Green Coast Awards, Green Flag for Parks, Green Business Award and Eco-Schools and EcoCampus as well established eco-labels in the province. The charity is committed to providing guidance and support for businesses, schools and destinations to reach their full sustainability potential.

Hospitality businesses interested in learning more about Green Key and how it can help them boost their green credentials should contact Dr Susann Power at susann.power@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or on 028 9073 6920, or visit www.greenkey-ni.org.

Belfast pupils turn recycling into a tasty treat.

David McCann   Fri 15 Dec 2017

Schools across Belfast are tackling the important topic of food waste with the launch of the exciting Wheelie Big Challenge run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools and supported by Belfast City Council. With alarming figures like 7 million tonnes of food being thrown away from UK homes every year, pupils are investigating what can be done in school and at home to reduce waste.

Pupils from Botanic Primary School have discovered that recycling food at school and at home means great compost, and great compost means great veggies! They have seen the process full circle to the benefit of their school vegetable patch. They also know it is not just their vegetables that benefit, but the environment as well, as food waste going to landfill is a top contributor to greenhouse gases – 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Last year saw pupils from 34 Belfast schools investigate and engage in practical actions to reduce waste, particularly food waste, in school and at home by reducing, reusing and recycling. Botanic Primary School placed food caddies in all their classrooms and managed to reduce the food in their bins by over 90%. They went on to impress the judges at the Wheelie Big Challenge competition in June and scooped first prize and £500 for their eco work.

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “The Wheelie Big Challenge is an action based, fun project and competition for all schools in Belfast to think about how they could improve the environment by reducing waste and recycling more. We are delighted to be once again supported by Belfast City Council and are looking forward to seeing all the interesting ideas from schools. We invite all school pupils in Belfast to put their eco-thinking caps on and get involved”.

Alderman Tommy Sandford, Chair of the People and Communities Committee, Belfast City Council said: “We are pleased to be working with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful again on this competition, building on the success of the past few years. This competition gives schools the opportunity to win great prizes while helping to protect the environment and reduce waste disposal costs. With research showing that around a third of food is wasted, we hope this competition will encourage pupils and their families to think about the food they waste at home and in school and do something about it. ”

The Wheelie Big Challenge is open now to all schools in Belfast City Council and will run until April. You can register your interest in the competition and receive resources and information by emailing cathy.gorman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or by calling 02890 736920.

The Eco-Schools Programme is the world’s largest environmental education programme which aims to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of school life. Eco-Schools work through a simple seven step process to implement behavioural change and study a range of topics, such as waste, litter and energy. By participating in projects such as the Wheelie Big Challenge schools throughout Belfast will be able to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable as they work towards their prestigious, internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award. To find out more please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org.

Pupils on a Mission to Tackle Food Waste

David McCann   Fri 15 Dec 2017

Schools across the country have been tasked with taking on the Food Waste Challenge, run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA).

DAERA was delighted to recently report that Northern Ireland has achieved a 50% recycling rate across the country for all types of waste for the first time. New food waste legislation introduced last April has helped households reach this target, and so it is pertinent that this project is focusing on food waste in particular. Around 10 million tonnes of food, with a value of £17 billion, is wasted in the UK each year - 60% of which could be avoided.

Food is an expensive part of our weekly budget with families in Northern Ireland spending, on average, £64 every week on food. The food we waste can be worth up to one third of the value of our shopping spend. Across Northern Ireland we waste the equivalent of up to six meals per week. As such, food waste going to landfill is placing a strain on our purses and the environment, 20% of the UK’s CO2 eq. emissions comes from food and waste.

The Eco-Schools programme, run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, is a pupil-led, environmental education programme, which encourages a hands-on approach to creating a more sustainable school and home environment. With an estimated half of all waste in schools being food waste it is a really important issue to tackle.

Pupils will be asked to highlight the great resource that could be produced from recycling food waste, namely compost. Not only will pupils learn about the 3R’s of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling food waste, but they will also learn about the great benefits to the environment that making compost has too.

Owen Lyttle, Head of Waste Policy, DAERA said: “With more household waste being recycled now than being landfilled in Northern Ireland this Food Waste Challenge provides a timely reminder to families to keep up the good work. Christmas is just around the corner and now is a good time to re-emphasise the need to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as possible. The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs applauds the enthusiasm of all the schools and pupils involved in the Challenge through their Eco-Schools work.”

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “We are delighted to be supported by DAERA in this Food Waste Challenge. It is a great opportunity for pupils to examine the issue and take real practical actions to make a positive change in school and at home. We are looking forward to seeing all the fabulous ideas they will have.”

Participating schools will have the chance to win prizes for their photos of school and home based actions. £200 for the best photo – in each council area - and a further £300 for the best overall school actions.

By participating in projects such as the Food Waste Challenge schools will be able to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable as they work towards their prestigious, internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award. To find out more please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org.

Belfast, 7th December 2017: A cross-border research project for developing a system for live bathing water monitoring is launched today at a prestigious event at Titanic Belfast, including presentations from project funders, partners and a stakeholder forum. This project has been funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

The EU SWIM Project – as it is known – combines the expertise of lead partner University College Dublin and Northern Irish project partners Agri-Food Bioscience Institute and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, aiming to develop a system that will allow bathers to check the water quality of their chosen bathing spots live before taking the dip. The development of a bathing water quality prediction model will directly tie into software to support the collection of data and delivery of information to the public.

Match-funded by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland, this research takes place across sites in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – a cross-border initiative supported by the Interreg VA funding scheme.

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “This innovative cross-border project represents a real step-change in how bathing water quality is monitored and will provide invaluable, real-time information on water quality for the general public on both sides of the border. It will make a significant contribution towards meeting the EU’s Bathing Water Directive, and therefore help meet one of the core environmental protection objectives of the INTERREG VA Programme.”

Professor Gregory O’Hare of University College Dublin explains “The EU SWIM Project will not only develop a bathing water prediction model and allow water sampling and microbial tracking, it will also result in the creation of an app and a website with real-life updates; which crucially promotes good management, environmental standards and sustainability for beaches on the island of Ireland.”

The research is scheduled to take place between now and December 2019. Regular updates can be found on www.swimproject.eu

ENDS//

To speak to a press spokesperson, please contact Dr Susann Power, Operations Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful on susann.power@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or 02890 736920.

University College Dublin

UCD is one of Europe's leading research-intensive universities; an environment where undergraduate education, masters and PhD training, research, innovation and community engagement form a dynamic spectrum of activity. The international standing of UCD has grown in recent years; it is currently ranked within the top 1% of institutions world-wide. USC is also Ireland's most globally engaged university with over 30,000 students drawn from over 120 countries, and includes 5,500 students based at locations outside the Republic of Ireland. As Ireland's largest university, with its great strength and diversity of disciplines, UCD embrances its role to contribute to the flourishing of the island of Ireland; through the study and discussion of people, society, business, economy, culture, languages and the creative arts, as well as through research and innovation.

Agri-Food Bioscience Institute

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) is a multi-disciplinary scientific institute offering world-class scientific services to a wide range of customers in the agri-food sector. They provide analytical & diagnostic, research & development and scientific training & advice in agriculture, food, animal and plant health, marine and freshwater ecosystems and the agri-environment. They operate across seven sites in Northern Ireland and have a purpose built marine research vessel which operates in the Irish Sea from the Port of Belfast. Their state-of-the-art equipment is used by world-renowned scientists to provide sophisticated and reliable results. They participate in top-level research consortia with some of the world’s most well-respected research organisations, universities and agencies globally, including China, the United States and Canada.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a cleaner, greener Northern Ireland by running environmental education programmes and awareness raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful runs a range of awareness raising and volunteering campaigns including the BIG Spring Clean and the Clean Coast programme as well as local environmental quality programmes such as international Eco-Schools and Blue Flag programmes, the Seaside Award, Borough Cleanliness Surveys and Live Here Love Here Green Business Awards. For more information, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

Call for Action!

Cathy Gorman   Tue 14 Nov 2017

The Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP), of which Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are a member, announces a global Call for Action for the field of environmental education (EE). Watch the video below and visit www.actnowforee.org to help shape the future!

#ecoschoolsni #ActNowforEE #theGEEP #NAAEE #enviroed #environmentaled

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GEEP Call for Action

On Thursday 5th October, Live Here Love Here and Coca-Cola HBC celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Coca-Cola Coast Care Awards, held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. The event, hosted by BBC Weatherman Barra Best, praised and rewarded the efforts of volunteers who have gone the extra mile to clean up and look after our coastline and inland waterways, in a bid to preserve the natural beauty of these areas.

The awards also celebrated the beauty of Northern Ireland’s Coastline and Inland waterways through the Picture Perfect Award; showcasing the beautiful scenery this country has to offer. Guests were entertained by music from talented, young musicians Fourte Strings and visual entertainment by sand sculptor, Tony Hawkins. The guest speaker on the night was writer, surfer and founder of the #2minutebeachclean campaign, Martin Dorey; he spoke from the heart, relating to and encouraging volunteers to continue in their fight against marine litter and highlighting the significance of even the smallest of gestures.

The Live Here Love Here Clean Coasts Programme supports the work of volunteers who clean up beaches, rivers and loughs throughout Northern Ireland, providing equipment and support to these outstanding local heroes. This would not be possible without the continued support of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The programme was founded in 2007 and in 2008 recorded a total of 110 volunteers. The programme has grown dramatically to a staggering 4642 volunteers in 2016. In 2017, the programme came into its element, with new and innovative events taking place throughout the country. A Clean Up and Drum Circle, a Cycle Sea Safari, Beach Clean and Boot Camp, and an Extreme Cave Clean in the underground rivers of Fermanagh are just a few of the events which engaged local people, both familiar and new to the programme. These events highlighted the effects of marine litter but also showcased the beautiful coastlines and inland waterways that our country has to offer.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “Our ten year partnership with Coca-Cola enables us to consistently support a growing movement of people who have the tenacity to keep on cleaning up our coast and inland waterways. Tonight we take the time to celebrate their achievements, their passion and their ‘can-do’ attitude that is keeping Northern Ireland’s shores, loughs, canals and rivers beautiful. It is obvious such volunteers really do live here and love here and their work is truly inspiring. Thank you.”

Louise Sullivan, Director Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland said, “We are immensely proud of our long-standing partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. As leaders in sustainability, we strive to minimise our impact on the environment and a key element of our efforts are focused on environmental

stewardship within communities. Everyone here tonight has the shared aim of keeping our country as beautiful as possible and I would like to both thank and congratulate everyone in this room for your hard work and dedication in doing so. These awards should act as an inspiration to others and hopefully your example will be followed and we will see many more volunteers around the country caring for our beautiful coast.”

The award winners and honorary mentions are as follows:

Coca-Cola Coast Care Group

Winner: Ballyhornan Development Association

Coca-Cola Inland Waterway Group

Winner: Six Mile Water Trust

Brighter Futures

Joint Winner: Ulidia Integrated College Eco Team

Joint Winner: 29th Belfast Beaver Scouts Carryduff

Better Business Partnership

Winner: Citi Belfast

Local Hero

Winner: Pat Watson, Inland Waterways Association Ireland

Picture Perfect

Winner: Wilbert McIlmoyle

Record Number of Parks Achieve the Green Flag Award

David McCann   Fri 28 Jul 2017

Today, environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, in association with Heyn Environmental Solutions, revealed the parks and green spaces that have been awarded a prestigious Green Flag Award.

Bangor Castle provided the perfect backdrop as a record 60 parks and green spaces in Northern Ireland received their Green Flag Award for exceeding tough environmental standards for green space management and visitor facilities. The Green Flag Award is an internationally recognised certification for environmental quality management for parks and open, green spaces.

For the 2017/18 season, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful saw a continued increase in public parks, gardens, country parks, cemeteries and green spaces meeting the demanding standards.

There were 14 first-time winners this year across all participating council areas, including: Jordanstown Loughshore Park, Hazelbank Park and Gideons Green, Mill Race Trail, Valley Park and Wallace Park in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council; Ballymenoch Park and Londonderry Park in Ards and North Down Borough Council; ABC Canal Greenway, Lough Neagh Conservation Area and The Mall Armagh City in Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council; Dunmurry Village and Tullycarnet Park in Belfast City Council; Brooke Park in Derry City and Strabane District Council; Grange Park in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Carrickfergus Mill Ponds, Shaftesbury Park & Marine Gardens in Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful also celebrates The Green Flag Community Award and The Green Heritage Award for sites which conserve, enhance and help people enjoy the heritage value of the site.

Ballyeaston Church Ruin received a second Green Flag Community Award for the site which is managed and maintained by volunteers from Ballyeaston Village Committee. Palace Demesne in Armagh receives its first Green Heritage Award with Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House and Sentry Hill Historic House and Visitor Centre receiving their second Green Heritage Awards. There are now more places than ever for the public to enjoy high quality outdoor spaces in Northern Ireland.

This year 36 sites in the Republic of Ireland have also received the Green Flag Awards, further highlighting the growth of this top quality award. In Ireland the scheme is managed locally by An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.

The Green Flag Awards are judged annually by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, ranging from horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said:

“We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme.

Parks matter to our society; this year more than 37 million people throughout the UK will visit a park, this is five million more than voted in June’s General Election.

The Green Flag Award is a sign of a well-managed, clean and safe park and with many people increasingly relying on their local park as a place to exercise, relax and have fun, quality green space has never been more important.

Research shows that people will only visit a park if they perceive it to be clean and safe; and the Green Flag Award is an easy way for the public to see at a glance that their park meets the highest standards.

All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the hundreds of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is an international programme run by the Foundation for Environmental Education in 34 countries. The programme aims to empower young people to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to articulate these issues through the media of writing, photography or video in an annual reporting competition. YRE in Northern Ireland is administered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful through the Eco-Schools programme and is open to students aged 11-21 years.

Ulidia Integrated College, Carrickfergus, a Green Flag Ambassador Eco-School, has been working with Lycee Pole School in Madagascar on a number of environmental projects this year. They teamed up to enter an article in the International Collaboration category of the YRE competition 2017.

The combined project has been very interesting for the two schools, seeing the different issues pupils face in both countries but also their shared concerns and passion to care for the environment. Their article focused on the production and consumption of coffee. The pupils in Madagascar, a coffee growing region, considered the challenges of growing and selling coffee faced by Madagascar farmers. Ulidia pupils considered the benefits of purchasing Fair Trade coffee here at home and how it helps farmers around the world get a fair deal for their crops.

The article was submitted to the International YRE Jury in Copenhagen in June and both schools were delighted to win first place in the International Collaboration category. Their article will now be published in the Huffington Post and is available to read from the YRE website www.yre.global

Ulidia pupils in Year 10 also decided to raise money for the community in Madagascar and together through various activities raised £1500, enough to dig a well for a local primary school close to Lycee Pole.

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “We are so pleased that this international collaboration has resulted in a first place prize for these two schools. The environmental issues we face are global and will require a global solution. These young people are setting an example for all of us to follow. Well done to Ulidia for running such a successful Eco-Schools and YRE programmes, we hope they will inspire others to take part too.”

The Eco-Schools programme is delivered to schools throughout Northern Ireland in partnership with a range delivery partners including DAERA and most Councils. For more information or take part in YRE please contact eco-schools@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or visit www.eco-schoolsni.org

Northern Ireland schools continue to excel in the international Eco-Schools programme, achieving a record number of Green Flag awards for the 6th consecutive year and awarding their 1000th Green Flag.

Eco-Schools is the world's leading environmental education programme. It is a pupil-led initiative with the aim to make environmental awareness and practical action an intrinsic part of school life.

Eco-Schools is operated by environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, which is dedicated to inspiring everyone to help make Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener and healthier place in which to live. The programme which has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

This year marked a landmark moment when Walker Memorial Primary School, Dungannon, received their first Green Flag and Northern Ireland’s 1000th Green Flag.

Diane Lockhart, Eco-Coordinator at Walker Memorial Primary School said: “The children were totally delighted that we got the 1000th Green Flag. All pupils are very involved with the areas of the Eco-Committee’s action plan it has brought these areas of learning alive. Pupils are highly motivated, inspired and focused to partake in lessons related to Eco-Schools. The programme provides pupils with another avenue of learning, those who are more practical and creative thrive on being involved in identifying the needs of the school and sharing their ideas for future action.”

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful added:

With support from the Department, Local Councils and many other partners, Eco-Schools is engaging our young people, who will be the next generation of business and political leaders, in developing eco-friendly behaviours that also help our economy. The programme is growing every year with more and more schools and young people making a real, tangible and positive impact on our environment through saving energy, reducing waste, picking up litter, travelling sustainably, providing biodiversity habitats and much more. Congratulations to Walker Memorial and all our schools who have achieved their Green Flag award; together we have reached this landmark 1000th Green Flag.’

This school year 149 schools achieved the prestigious, internationally recognised Green Flag award in recognition of the excellent progress they have been making in protecting the environment and moving towards a more sustainable future. The first Green Flag in the world was awarded to Downpatrick Nursery School in 1994. Since then the programme has consistently grown. There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of schools achieving the award for the 7th year in a row - increasing from 55 in 2010/11 to 97 in 2011/12; 103 in 2012/13; 114 in 2013/14; 128 in 2014/15; 136 in 2015/16 and now 149 in 2016/17.