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Volunteers Lift Millionth Piece of Marine Litter

David McCann   Mon 03 Dec 2018

Rostrevor was the scene of an historic moment last month, as volunteers for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful carried out a clean-up on the town’s beach and lifted the millionth piece of litter that the environmental charity has counted across the ten beaches that they survey nationwide.

The organisation has been carrying out these surveys since 2012, using a well-trained group of dedicated volunteers to assess the levels of marine litter washed up on some of our best loved and most iconic beaches. Once the litter count is complete, another team of volunteers then follow in behind and bag it all up, ensuring that our beaches are kept as clean as possible while also allowing relevant data to be gathered on the extent of the marine litter issue. These data are then used to publish their annual Marine Litter Report and are also uploaded to the OSPAR Commission’s database – a portal that receives data from a number of other countries in North East Europe. This information can then be used to develop policy and research potential solutions to the issue, which has come under intense public scrutiny within the last year.

Whilst one million pieces of litter may seem like a shocking figure for some, to others it is not at all surprising. Freddie Harris, the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Manager at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said, “We see a ridiculous amount of litter on some of our survey beaches. The number we have reached this month is obviously a big milestone, but it’s hard to be too pleased about it because it’s a clear sign that we’re not doing enough to combat the problem. We can collect data, write reports and inform policy makers as much as we like, but unless we also engage with the public in a way that energises them to change the way they act, we’re fighting a losing battle. We would ask everyone to think about their daily habits with regards to waste, whether it’s taking reuseable bags with them to the shops, or bringing their refillable mug to the café – we can all do our bit to help. The most worrying aspect of this for me is that if you look at the data from 2012 to 2017, 79% of all the litter we’ve counted has been plastic. This is a material that never disappears from our environment – it just gets smaller and smaller until it works its way into the food chain and our drinking water. That can’t be healthy.”

The charity also announced that they have just received funding from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to run a programme that will specifically target Single Use Plastics, assessing their use in Northern Ireland and looking at ways in which that can be reduced to help address the overall issue of litter in our local environment.

ENDS//

To speak to a programme spokesperson, please contact Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO, at ian.humphreys@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or on 028 90 736 920.

The Green Key award is the leading global standard for excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. Currently operating in 57 countries with over 2900 establishments achieving award status in 2018, Green Key is a voluntary eco-label that visitors from all over the world will recognise and value. Green Key is managed by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), and is recognised and supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Green Key criteria are recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful invites you to attend a breakfast briefing with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Green Key Global to learn how this certification programme can benefit your business and the Northern Ireland tourism product as a whole.

Key Note Speaker- Finn Bolding Thomsen

Finn Bolding Thomsen has worked more than 20 years for the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), which is an international environmental organisation with members in more than 75 countries. As part of his work for FEE, Finn has travelled all over the world. Prior to taking the position as Managing Director, Finn acquired extensive experience with programme management being the International Coordinator of the Blue Flag Programme, which is a sustainable tourism programme for beaches and marinas. He also had the position as the national Coordinator of the Young Reporters for the Environment Programme, which is an environmental education and communication programme for secondary school students.

In his current position as International Green Key Director, he is in charge of the overall administrative management as well as the strategic development of the Green Key programme. The work includes development of criteria, harmonisation of the programme, reporting to the Green Key International Steering Committee and FEE Board of Directors, PR and communication, contacts to corporate partners, international hotel chain partners, web partners and institutional partners, managing Green Key establishments in countries without a national operator, conducting audits, etc.

Venue

Allstate NI Belfast

10 Mays Meadow,

Belfast,

N. Ireland

BT1 3PH

Contact Details

Please RSVP to Karina Robinson, Projects and Events Officer: Karina.Robinson@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

If you wish to discuss this proposal further please do not hesitate to contact:

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive: Ian.Humphreys@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

Jennifer Firth, Certifications Manager: Jennifer.Firth@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

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Green Key Breakfast Briefing

City2Sea: Pathways for Litter Conference 2018

Karina Robinson   Thu 04 Oct 2018

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Derry City and Strabane District Council invite you to attend our City2Sea: Pathways for Litter Conference in The Guildhall, Guildhall Street, Derry~Londonderry, BT48 6DQ on Monday 22nd October 2018.

This conference is an opportunity for local authorities, businesses, NGOs and other engaged stakeholders to come together and examine the various issues around river litter and the potential solutions presented.

This year’s conference, featuring a range of international and national contributors, will be hosted in the grand surroundings of the Guildhall in Derry/Londonderry. The theme is very timely – Pathways for Litter and Single Use Plastics. TV coverage such as Blue Planet II andSky Ocean Rescue, and initiatives like the UK Plastics Pact, has ensured that this issue has never received so much media attention. Today it is firmly placed in the public consciousness. It is no surprise, therefore, to see it rising on the political agenda, both in Europe and at home, with the EU Waste Directive covering litter for the first time ever and interventions on plastic very much to the fore.

Join us as we hear from a brilliant line up of speakers including Eunomia Senior Consultant, Dr Chiarina Darrah; Councillor Rachel Woods, Green Party; Sinead McCoy, An Taisce; Dr Ian Humphreys, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful; Jim Keys, Zero Waste North West and Sean Lynch, Open Litter Map.

For more details and to register please contact Karina.Robinson@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

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city2 sea conference

Vote for Your Favourite Green Flag Park

---   Thu 06 Sep 2018   updated: Tue 11 Sep 2018

We all have a favourite park and now’s the time to vote for yours.

Vote for your favourite park and show how the UK loves parks.

The experts have had their say and in July 1,883 parks and green spaces in the UK were given a prestigious Green Flag Award.

Now, the Award Scheme is asking the nation to have its say and decide which parks and green spaces should receive the People’s Choice Award for being the UK’s favourites.

Whether you enjoy visiting a park or green space to play football, walk the dog, exercise or simply get away from the hustle and bustle, if you think your favourite deserves to be in the top 10 People’s Choice then cast your vote.

All you have to do is go to www.greenflagaward.org, find your park on the winners map and click the voting button. Once you’ve registered your vote, why not encourage others to get involved too through social media using the hashtag #PeoplesChoice.

Voting opens 1 September and closes 30 September, with the top 10 sites being announced on 16 October.

Paul Todd, Green Flag Award Manager said: "This year 1883 parks and green spaces met the tough standards demanded by our Green Flag Award Judges but we want to know which parks the UK public love the most.

The People’s Choice award is a chance to show how much your favourite park means to you. If it’s worth shouting about, make your voice heard and vote now.”

Paul Rabbitts Head of Parks, Open Spaces & Projects whose Cassiobury Park was among the top 10 winners last year said:

“Cassiobury Park is often referred to as the jewel in our crown here in Watford. We are immensely proud of it and we truly believe it is one of the finest parks in the country and are delighted it was voted as one of the top ten parks last year. We will certainly be hoping it is as popular again this year”

Last year’s top 10 People’s Choice winners were:

  • Arlington Square Gardens-Arlington Association

  • Cassiobury Park-Watford Borough Council

  • Clifton Park-Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

  • Margam Park-Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

  • Millennium Country Park-Forest of Marston Vale Trust

  • Saltwell Park-Gateshead Council

  • Strathaven Park-South Lanarkshire Council

  • The Wilderness Lake Porthcawl-Bridgend County Borough Council

  • Warley Woods-Warley Woods Community Trust

  • Whiteknights-University of Reading

Record Number of Parks Achieve the Green Flag Award

David McCann   Thu 26 Jul 2018

Today, environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful revealed an ever growing number of parks and green spaces that have been awarded a prestigious Green Flag Award.

The Hill of the O’Neill in Dungannon provided the perfect backdrop as a record 71 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 and is growing from strength to strength.

For the 2018/19 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 9 first-time winners this year across all participating council areas, including: Belmont Cemetery in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council; Loughgall Country Park and Portadown People's Park in Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council; Connswater Community Greenway and Half Moon Lake in Belfast City Council; Broadmeadow in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council; Moat Park in Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council; Hill of The O’Neill in Mid Ulster District Council and Kilbroney Park in Newry, Mourne and Down District 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. Rathfern Activity Centre and Toome Linear Park received their first Green Flag Community Awards and Ballyeaston Church Ruin received its third Green Flag Community Award; these sites are managed and maintained by volunteers from the local communities. Belfast Botanic Gardens and The Mall in Armagh receives their first Green Heritage Award with Antrim Castle Gardens and Sentry Hill Historic House and Visitor Centre receiving their third Green Heritage Awards; these sites celebrate and promote elements of their heritage that make their site unique. There are now more places than ever for the public to enjoy high quality outdoor spaces in Northern Ireland.

This year 48 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.

We are proud to have so many wonderful green spaces in Northern Ireland for people to experience, and encourage the public to head outdoors.

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.”

If you are interested in finding out further information about the Green Flag Award or other programmes run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful please e-mail us on

enquiries@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org call us on 028 9073 6920 or check out our website www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

Rural Areas in Serious Need of Summer Love

David McCann   Fri 22 Jun 2018

The image conjured up when you hear the words ‘summer’ and ‘countryside’ is normally one of rolling green hills, quiet country roads and hedgerows bustling with wildlife, but when tourists visit one of our rural areas they are likely to encounter a much different scene – one filled with rubbish.

The most recent Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report published by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful shows that 39% of rural roads surveyed across the country failed to meet the accepted standard for litter in 2017/18. This is 13 times higher than the 3% of transects that failed in city and town centres.

While no data was collected to show the frequency of littering events in these areas and whether one was higher than the other, it is clear that city and town areas are cleansed on a much more frequent basis than their rural counterparts. Most Councils dispatch cleansing teams to their towns and cities on a daily basis, but some country roads are only cleaned once every six months and even less than that in some cases.

According to a recent NISRA bulletin, there have never been more tourists coming to Northern Ireland, with an estimated 2.7 million overnight trips from external visitors in 2017 contributing a massive £657 million to the local economy. With the route between our two most visited attractions involving travel along rural roads, tourists are almost guaranteed to catch an eyeful of our littered hedgerows, perhaps making that return trip all the less likely.

Freddie Harris, the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Manager for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “The case for keeping our country clean is clear cut. The results from our surveys show that rural litter is a real problem and it will have a real impact on both our environment and our economy. It is sad that some people are so inconsiderate that they don’t recognise the damage even one small piece of litter can do to our environment. All of our waste ends up somewhere and sadly in most cases it is our beautiful countryside that is bearing the brunt.

Studies have shown that litter can have an adverse effect on tourism and it is really important that our local authorities are proactive in keeping the greenest parts of our province beautiful for the millions of visitors to enjoy.

While we understand that limited resources may have to be stretched thin, the indirect costs of littering can spiral into the hundreds of millions of pounds with negative effects on property values, crime rates and mental health. We are ready and willing to help our local Councils alleviate this issue as much as possible and for us that starts with litter prevention through a variety of public engagement, behaviour change and awareness programmes.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful have presented Beach and Marina Operators with 12 national and 11 internationally recognised awards for excellence in facilities, environmental management, education and water quality.

The international Blue Flag will be flown at 9 of Northern Ireland’s beaches and 2 marinas to signify world class facilities and destinations. The Blue Flag is an award programme certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). 45 countries participate in awarding Blue Flags to more than 4400 beaches, marinas and boats worldwide making this award accessible to local beach goers and tourists alike. Beaches and marinas with a Blue Flag are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the coastal environment, excellent water quality, safety, and access for all. Blue Flag beaches and marinas also offer environmental education activities, as an important part of the award criteria. Beaches and Marinas may only fly the Blue Flag if all the criteria are successfully met throughout the summer season.

The Seaside Award is the national standard for beaches across the UK. The standards required by this programme ensure visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed coastal environment with varied levels of facilities provided depending on the location of the beach. 11 beaches have been recognised by this award and can be identified by the Seaside Award Flag or Plaque.

1 of our more rural beaches has received the Green Coast Award, which recognises an agreement between the operator and the local community to protect and promote a natural beach environment rather than developing visitor infrastructure. Green Coast Award beaches can also be found in the Republic of Ireland and in Wales, but due to their more natural state, may not be flying a flag.

Northern Ireland’s coastline has some iconic sights, and many of our awarded beaches include or are next to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with specially protected habitats and species forming a large part of the experience visitors enjoy. The aim of these award programmes is to improve the connection between people and their surroundings by encouraging them to learn more about and spend time in their outdoor environment. Most award winning beaches and marinas provide information points to showcase the best of our wildlife and how visitors can enjoy these natural wonders without disturbing or damaging them.

Information on all the award winning beaches and marinas can be found at www.beachni.com or by picking up an Award Winning Beaches Leaflet from your nearest Tourist Information Centre.

The awards were presented on 24th May 2018, in time for the bathing season, which runs from 1st June until the 15th September each year.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “We can turn up just about anywhere along Northern Ireland’s coastline and lough shores and know you will enjoy world beating scenery. It is thanks to the hard work of dedicated beach and marina operators, achieving prestigious awards, that our experience is matched by impressive standards for facilities, cleanliness and safety that we all want and expect. The pride they take in their work is evident for us all to see when we visit our own special places.”

When it comes to litter, rural areas have the highest amount of litter across the country, with up to 13 times the amount of litter found in our town and city centres. That’s according to this year’s Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report from the environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Across all Council areas, 39% of rural transects failed the accepted standard for litter, compared to 13% for secondary retail areas and only 3% for primary retail zones. This may be due to scarce resources increasingly being focused on areas with a higher footfall, or Councils being careful not to put their staff in harm’s way on country roads. Subsequently, the proportion of litter coming from motorists overall has increased from 26% to 30%, as 95% of the litter in rural areas comes from passing vehicles.

It’s not all bad news, however. The percentage of transects completely free of litter has seen a leap from 5% to 12%, the highest it has been since the litter reports began in 2010. Furthermore, the report also states that the average number of surveyed transects across all land uses that failed has remained steady from last year at 15%, while those suffering from dog fouling has also stayed the same at 6%.

Levels of engagement and education have also increased proportionately this year, with over 111,000 people getting involved with civic pride initiatives through the Live Here Love Here campaign and 273 schools earning the right to fly the coveted Green Flag, the pinnacle of the Eco-Schools programme. The number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued by Council Enforcement Officers has dropped however, down 13% on last year’s figures. Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful says the answer to the litter issue lies in a balance to these approaches. He added, “We know people will stop littering if they think they will be fined. So removing the postcode lottery from this important measure is a must. Supporting education through Eco-Schools and positive community action through Live Here Love Here are also key facets of the overall solution. Finally, we must all play our part in challenging those who defile our towns and countryside.”

The report concludes with a number of recommendations for combating the litter problem, which tie in with the publication of recent EU Waste Directive Amendments that are also included in the work. It’s yet to be seen how much of this legislation will survive the Brexit process, much less be adopted by the Northern Ireland Assembly, but steps clearly need to be taken to stem an issue that is disproportionately effecting our countryside.

New Marine Litter Report Reveals Extent of Plastic Pollution on Northern Ireland’s Beaches

David McCann   Tue 06 Mar 2018   updated: Fri 09 Mar 2018

The 2017 Marine Litter Report, published today by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, has laid bare the state of our beaches in Northern Ireland when it comes to the litter landing on our shores. The organisation began these surveys in 2012, with an average of 510 items of litter being found per 100m of beach between then and now. An astonishing 79% of this litter was made of plastic, a figure that rises to 82% when you look at the 2017 data in isolation. Incredibly, 30% of the litter was a 'single use plastic', so called because the item is used once and then thrown away.

Much has been made of the plastic problem in the media recently, with shows like ‘Blue Planet II’ and the ‘Sky Ocean Rescue’ campaign shining the spotlight on what is a global issue and requires a global response. The Marine Litter Report also lends some insight into the matter, looking at the specific harm that plastic poses to some of our most beloved and protected marine animals. From leatherback turtles to the iconic Atlantic puffin, it seems that no creature is immune from the ubiquitous material and it is estimated that up to 99% of all seabirds will have ingested plastic by 2050 if no fundamental changes to plastic and waste consumption occurs. Furthermore, tiny fragments of plastic known as ‘microplastics’ have been found in 83% of tap water samples taken all around the world. This, combined with the plastics being found in our seafood, is a clear pathway for entry into the human body.

Dr Ian Humphreys from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful thinks the tide is starting to turn on marine litter, saying, “The damaging effects of littering, particularly of single use plastics that end up polluting our oceans, is clearly highlighted in this year's report, which shows four items of litter for every step that we take along our coast. Thankfully, most people don't litter, and growing awareness and calls for action spell the beginning of the end for this highly anti-social behaviour.”

The report also highlights the fantastic work being done by groups of volunteers from a range of different organisations. Over the course of 1,345 hours, 461 volunteers lifted 850 bags of rubbish across the ten beaches surveyed. This is just one form of environmental leadership outlined in the publication, which also draws attention to Ards and North Down Borough Council, who recently passed a motion to promote eco-friendly alternatives to single use plastics such as coffee cups and plastic straws. Schools have also been getting involved, with Mill Strand Integrated Primary School banning all plastic straws after one of their pupils saw a disturbing image of a turtle with a straw up its nose on social media.

The full report can now be downloaded from the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful website.

The marine litter surveys are carried out four times a year by trained members of staff and dedicated volunteers. The data collected is also used by DAERA and the OSPAR Commission.

ENDS//

To speak to a programme spokesperson, please contact Freddie Harris, Cleaner Neighbourhoods Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful at freddie.harris@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or on 028 9073 6920 / 077 9664 7012 or Chief Executive, Dr Ian Humphreys on 028 9073 6920/ 07905613546

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.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful have presented Beach and Marina Operators with 14 national and 10 internationally recognised awards for excellence in facilities, environmental management, education and water quality.

The international Blue Flag will be flown at 8 of Northern Ireland’s beaches and 2 marinas to signify world class facilities and destinations. The Blue Flag is an award programme certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). 47 countries participate in awarding Blue Flags to more than 4000 beaches and marinas worldwide making this award accessible to local beach goers and tourists alike. Beaches and marinas with a Blue Flag are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the coastal environment, excellent water quality, safety, and access for all. Blue Flag beaches and marinas also offer environmental education activities, as an important part of the award criteria. Beaches and Marinas may only fly the Blue Flag if all the criteria are successfully met throughout the summer season.

The Seaside Award is the national standard for beaches across the UK. The standards required by this programme ensure visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed coastal environment with varied levels of facilities provided depending on the location of the beach. 12 beaches have been recognised by this award and can be identified by the Seaside Award Flag or Plaque.

2 of our more rural beaches have received the Green Coast Award, which recognises an agreement between the operator and the local community to protect and promote a natural beach environment rather than developing visitor infrastructure. Green Coast Award beaches can also be found in the Republic of Ireland and in Wales, but due to their more natural state, may not be flying a flag.

Northern Ireland’s coastline has some iconic sights, and many of our awarded beaches include or are next to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with specially protected habitats and species forming a large part of the experience visitors enjoy. The aim of these award programmes is to improve the connection between people and their surroundings by encouraging them to learn more about and spend time in their outdoor environment. Most award winning beaches and marinas provide information points to showcase the best of our wildlife and how visitors can enjoy these natural wonders without disturbing or damaging them.

Information on all the award winning beaches and marinas can be found at www.beachni.com or by picking up an Award Winning Beaches Leaflet from your nearest Tourist Information Centre.

The awards were presented on 24th May 2017, in time for the bathing season, which runs from 1st June until the 15th September each year.

Tony Wilcox, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “Having Northern Ireland’s world class beaches managed to such high standards is helping improve the quality of our lives as well as attracting visitors. Beach operators are inspirational people showing that all of us can play our part in loving where we live. And, in most council areas, the Live Here Love Here campaign is building on this to inspire everyone to get involved in creating cleaner, greener and healthier places to live, learn and work.”

With weeks of fine weather in early May prompting hopes of a fine 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 have created a visitor map highlighting the facilities offered at each beach and also including 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, in larger bus and rail stations and from local councils.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

For reference:

Awards Presented

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

Blue Flag

1. Cranfield West Beach

2. Murlough Beach

3. Tyrella Beach

Green Coast Award

4. Minerstown Beach

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

Blue Flag

5. Benone Beach

6. Downhill Beach

7. West Strand

8. Whiterocks Beach

9. Ballycastle Marina

Seaside Award

10. Ballycastle Beach

11. Castlerock Beach

12. Portrush East Strand

13. Waterfoot Beach

North Down and Ards Borough Council

Seaside Award

14. Ballywalter Beach

15. Groomsport Beach

16. Millisle Beach

Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)

Seaside Award

17. Crawfordsburn Beach

Green Coast Award

18. Helen’s Bay Beach

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Seaside Award

19. Ballygally Beach

20. Brown’s Bay

21. Carnlough Beach

Mid Ulster District Council

Blue Flag

22. Ballyronin Marina

National Trust

Blue Flag

23. Portstewart Strand

Seaside Award

24. Portstewart Strand

For Interview:

Contact the office on 028 9073 6920 or at chris.allen@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

More resources than ever are being devoted to maintaining a clean and welcoming environment in Northern Ireland, according to the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

In a report published today, the environmental charity said that 2016-17 had seen a record £43Million spent on cleaning the streets. In response the year ahead will see nine of the eleven councils working together to tackle littering behaviour. Among other figures the charity highlighted was 233 groups ‘adopting a spot’ in order to keep it clean and inviting, and 24,500 children taking part in anti-litter education.

This intensification of efforts by Councils was welcomed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful CEO, Dr Ian Humphreys, who said “The rising street cleaning bill, being met by ratepayers, is simply unsustainable. This is why many organisations are joining forces to change littering behaviour. Together we can begin to make a difference and this move is being supported by tens of thousands of volunteers who show they live here and love here through clean-ups. With over a third of the public admitting to littering we still have some way to go and so if we want a better place to live we all have to do our bit and get involved.”

While the year saw a slight rise in the percentage of places that were unacceptably littered, it also saw the biggest annual drop in the rates of dog fouling since their surveys began in 2008, and the highest percentage of spaces with no litter – not even a single cigarette butt – at 5%.

One of the surprising facts Dr Humphreys pointed out was that the availability of a bin appears to have little or no impact on the likelihood somewhere will suffer unacceptable littering: “Having a bin in sight in an area makes no statistical difference to how much litter ends up on the ground. This suggests that for many people bins are either deemed irrelevant or invisible. We need to change people’s mind-set so that they look for and use a bin, or take their rubbish home.”

The charity has made a number of recommendations that it believes would go a long way to achieving its vision of a cleaner country.

The charity says that fiscal measures should be explored further as part of a wider system of measures.

The development of programmes that reward desirable behaviour such picking up after your dog have been put forward as ways of preventing littering – like giving a vaccine rather than treating an illness.

Perhaps more controversially, the charity is suggesting that the government and Councils consider introducing American-style parking restrictions, where on-street parking is banned in a particular area for a few hours once a week to allow thorough cleaning; their surveys suggest that mechanical sweepers are regularly prevented from doing their job because of parked cars.

Dr Humphreys concluded “As the evenings lengthen and we look to spend more time outdoors we all want to enjoy spaces free of litter and dog fouling. To achieve this requires us all to do our bit and show we live here and really do love here.”

Councils, community groups and charities gathered in Belfast on Tuesday 7th to share the latest approaches to holding back the tide of litter sweeping the country. While the total cost of cleaning up after litterers in Northern Ireland topped £43 million in 2015-16, some of the projects discussed here which prevent littering in the first place were free or nearly so.

The Environmental Charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful organised the event, bringing in three of the UK’s most experienced practitioners in what is popularly known as “nudging” alongside local speakers whose projects have been making a difference in their community.

One project described saw flowers bloom in a Belfast alleyway and was highlighted as a great example of people caring for the place they live, which has been shown to drive down anti-social behaviour. Another reduced littering in a park by making using a bin the objective in a game of hopscotch, so people used the bin without thinking.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said “A nudge is a way of encouraging a person to act in a particular manner – in this case not dropping litter – in a simple way that does not limit their choice to act differently if they really want. We’re not telling people what to do; we’re helping them make a decision to act in a way they know they should.”

“Thankfully, most people don’t litter. A small number litter and don’t listen when you say stop; for those people we have fines and enforcement teams, who should be supported every step of the way. Everybody else that litters does it without really thinking about it and they are the people the nudge approach works for. We’re trying to make it easier for them to decide to act in the way they would if they stopped and thought about it, without actually having to stop.”

Alongside what might be described as traditional TV and radio advertising were strange ideas like glow in the dark posters to deter littering after dark, spraying dog fouling with vivid dyes so people start to notice it as a problem, and even the straightforward such as incentivising dog owners to carry an extra bag in case they meet someone who has forgotten. All simple ideas, but with a potential to make a big hole in a £43million problem.

Ian continued “it’s great to see ten of the eleven councils represented here, as well as community groups, charities and environmental groups. When you factor in the support the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs gave to facilitate the event you get a feel for the commitment that’s being made to tackle litterer’s expensive and damaging habit.”

Around one in seven of Northern Ireland’s streets and parks failed to meet the accepted standard for litter during 2016, Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has said. This is despite Councils spending a total of £43,285,212 on cleansing during 2015-16; a rise of over 8% on efforts during the previous year.

Based on a survey of 1,100 sites across all of Northern Ireland, the survey shows that 15% of sites were described as having a “widespread distribution of litter with minor accumulations” or worse. The worst affected places were industrial estates, where more than one in three sample sites failed to meet the standard. By contrast, 99% of low density housing areas were rated clean or very clean, with 14% of those completely free of any litter.

Chris Allen, who manages the survey for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “It’s clear from the data that councils are struggling to keep pace with people’s irresponsible habits. They’re being forced to spend a totally unsustainable amount of ratepayers’ money – our money – on treating an entirely preventable problem. The average annual charge to every ratepayer in the country is around £58.”

One positive note within the survey was dog fouling, a perennial issue across Northern Ireland, but one which showed signs of improvement – sites with dog fouling dropped from an average of 11% over the previous 4 years to 6% during 2016. However, one in five sites in public parks still had dog fouling, and even 3% of children’s play areas. Amazingly, this is a significant improvement over the 2015 survey, when 10% of children’s play areas were observed to have dog fouling in them.

The survey also throws out some interesting specifics: Although a lack of a handy bin is often cited as a reason to drop litter, more than two out of three sample sites in city and town centres and other retails areas had at least one bin. Of all the retail sites that were considered unacceptably littered, 63% had at least one bin, with one site having four bins available – one approximately every 12 metres. In parks and play areas 85% of sites had a bin, including 81% of the sites that were unacceptably littered.

Councils are also investing in anti-litter education initiatives such as Live Here Love Here, a campaign supported by seven of the eleven councils, the Housing Executive and the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, as well as businesses like Coca-Cola and Choice Housing. Many Councils also run local initiatives directly in schools and communities.

There is an average of 528 items of litter for every 100m of coast around Northern Ireland, a new report has found – that’s about five bits of litter for every step you take on some beaches. Perhaps more shockingly, this figure compares favourably against the rest of the coast of the UK and Ireland.

The report, by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, is an analysis of surveys on ten reference beaches from Runkerry Strand in the North West to Rostrevor in the South East. Staff and volunteers have covered a total of 56 kilometres over fourteen survey rounds since September 2012 to collect the data and remove the litter.

Chris Allen, who manages the survey for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “This new analysis looks at all the data we have collected since 2012. We’ve found tremendous variation between the surveys, so taking them all together allows us to get the best picture of the amount and composition of litter washing up on our beaches.”

Over the four years of the study, there was no significant change in the overall litter count, although the number of plastic bags and sanitary waste items have both reduced, which has been attributed to the carrier bag levy and improvements to treatment works by NI Water respectively.

Chris went on “When you compare our reference beaches against the reference beaches in the UK, Ireland and the countries around the North Atlantic, we actually come out with less litter per 100m. That we can have over 500 bits of litter per 100m and still be cleaner than other places is pretty worrying. This stuff damages boats; kills marine life, and could cause contamination of fish and shellfish that end up on our plates. Not to mention it looks pretty disgusting when it washes up on our beaches.”

As well as highlighting the amount of litter, the report praises the work of volunteers in cleaning beaches around the country. 4,187 bags of rubbish have been lifted by volunteers taking part in just this project – once the litter is counted, it is removed to ensure it isn’t counted in the next survey.

One group of people working hard to control litter are the residents of the Fishing Village of Ardglass in County Down. Kevin Quigley of the NI Fishery Harbour Authority said “We know litter is a problem – the tides wash it up here from all over the place – but our staff have pride in this beautiful harbour village and so can be seen regularly with local and other volunteers undertaking beach cleans.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful revealed recently that Councils in Northern Ireland spent £43 million cleaning up litter in 2015-16, and it’s clear that some of what’s left is making its way into the sea. However, there are a number of initiatives taking place around the country to tackle the problem, including Council-led strategies specifically to remove and reduce beach litter, and education programmes run by NI Water and Eco-Schools to teach responsible disposal of litter. Fishing vessels have even begun to bring litter caught in their nets back to shore for responsible disposal.

You can read the full 2016 Marine Litter Report at http://www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/cgi-bin/generic?instanceID=50

Northern Ireland’s eleven Councils spent a total of £43,285,212 on cleaning our roads, streets and open spaces in 2015-16; a rise of over 8% on spending during the previous year. This expression of serious intent to clean up our streets and parks has however been somewhat blunted by a fall of almost 20% in the number of people actually caught and fined for littering.

The figures, which were gathered by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful from Council financial statements and records of enforcement, show how hard councils have to work to hold back a tide of unsightly and harmful litter. To put the figure in context that £43 Million would pay the annual salary of 1,995 newly qualified nurses. The total expected cost of the new build Royal Victoria Hospital Maternity Unit is £46.2 Million.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said of the figures “Council staff work day and night to keep our streets clean but we spend more and more each year just to stand still. And research shows litter costs society the same again with losses to business and tourism and our health. That’s why most councils have now come together, with others, to deliver Live Here Love Here. This is building community pride and starting work on the real solution, which is to prevent litter being dropped in the first place.”

Many people will wonder where the money for street cleansing comes from, and the answer is that councils pay it from their rates, with the average annual charge to every rate payer in the country around £58.

At the other end of the bargain, the number of people actually caught littering has dropped by almost a fifth, from 4,443 to just 3,724. In addition, just 310 people were penalised for not clearing up after their dog last year. As Dr Humphreys points out “In a fair society the polluter would pay for the clean-up, but at this rate that would mean that the penalty for dropping a crisp packet would need to be over £10,000. Most people don’t drop litter. So we need to give the people who do litter a clear signal that their dirty, selfish behaviour is not acceptable. We all have a part to play in encouraging litterers to stop.”

The total raised by fixed penalties to be set against the cost of cleansing was just £191,530, less than half of one percent of the total cost.

The difference between Councils was stark, with over half of all fixed penalties issued in Belfast, but just 1% issued in Lisburn and Castlereagh. Dr Humphreys Welcomed Belfast’s approach, saying they had “grasped the nettle of penalising litterers for the good of everybody living and working within the Council area.”

Councils are also investing in anti-litter education initiatives such as Live Here Love Here, a media campaign supported by seven of the eleven councils, the Housing Executive and the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, as well as businesses like Coca-Cola and Choice Housing. Many Councils also run local initiatives directly in schools and communities.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is currently collating results of 1,100 surveys across the country to see if the additional money spent is having the desired effect and reducing the amount of litter on streets and in parks.

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Chris Allen, Local Environmental Quality Co-Ordinator

Chris.allen@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

028 9073 6921

Note to Editors

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is an environmental charity working towards the vision of a beautiful Northern Ireland by inspiring people to take responsibility for creating cleaner, greener and more sustainable communities.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful runs a number of awareness raising campaigns including the BIG Spring Clean volunteering and public engagement campaign, the Clean Coast programme which supports coastal volunteering groups. The charity also runs the Seaside and Green Coast Awards, the international Blue Flag (for beaches and marinas) and Eco-Schools programmes all of which set environmental quality standards.

Live Here Love Here is supported by The Department of the Environment; Tourism Northern Ireland; Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council; Derry City and Strabane District Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Mid and Est Antrim and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Choice Housing, the Housing Executive and Coca Cola.

Find out more about it at www.liveherelovehere.org/What-s-it-all-about.aspx

Figures used in this release

• Spending figures were collected from individual Council financial statements, which are available on Council websites

• FPN figures were provided by Councils in response to requests for the information

• A new nurse starting at band 5 on the pay scale will earn £21,692 pa. https://www.rcn.org.uk/employment-and-pay/nhs-pay-scales-2015-16

• The Royal Victoria Hospital estimated costs http://www.belfasttrust.hscni.net/pdf/1108__Annual_Report_14_to_15_final_copy_29_June2.pdf

• Cost to ratepayers based on projected figure of 744,800 households in Northern Ireland in 2015, source http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/population/household/household_project.pdf

Record Number of Parks Achieve the Green Flag Award

Nicola Fitzsimons   Thu 22 Sep 2016

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.

Armagh Palace Demesne provided the perfect backdrop as a record 51 parks and green spaces in Northern Ireland received their Green Flags, awarded for exceeding tough environmental standards for green space management and visitor facilities – the Green Flag Awards is the mark of a quality park or green space recognised throughout the world.

For the 2016/17 season, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful saw a continued increase in public parks, country parks, cemeteries and green spaces meeting the demanding standards.

First-time winners this year included Antrim/Belmont Cemetery (Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council); Castle Park (Ards and North Down Borough Council); Clare Glen and Palace Demesne (Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council); Carnfunnock Country Park, Ecos Nature Park and Eden Allotment Gardens (Mid and East Antrim Borough Council) and Maghera Walled Garden (Mid Ulster District Council).

In 2016 Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful have announced two new Green Flag Award categories: the Green Flag Community Award and the Green Heritage Award. Ballyeaston Church Ruin received a Green Flag Community Award for the site which is managed and maintained by Ballyeaston Village Committee. Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House and Sentry Hill Historic House & Visitor Centre received the Green Heritage Award, these sites conserve, enhance and help people enjoy the heritage value of the site. There are now more places than ever for the public to enjoy high quality outdoor spaces.

This year 22 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 Green Flag Awards are judged every year by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.

Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen said:

“Our parks and open spaces are frequently enjoyed by people of all ages, providing an opportunity to relax and unwind from everyday life.

“We recognise and reward the achievements of all those who work to improve the quality and environmental standards of our parks and open spaces.

“It is a credit to all those involved that the Green Flag Award scheme has continued to grow over the last four years. I am delighted that this year we have seen a record number of applicants to the scheme.

“I look forward to the continued success of the Green Flag Awards in the coming years in helping more and more of our public parks and green spaces achieve higher environmental standards.”

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

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

If you are interested in finding out further information about the Green Flag Award or other programmes run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful please e-mail us on enquiries@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org call us on 028 9073 6920 or check out our website www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

Heading towards the General Assembly 2016

David McCann   Tue 13 Sep 2016

Copenhagen 8 September 2016 – The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is holding its biennial General Assembly on 15-16 September in Ahmedabad, India. At the assembly sessions, member organisations from 75 countries will be discussing the most recent developments in FEE and elect their new President and Board of Directors.

The General Assembly is arranged and hosted by the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) India, FEE’s Associate Member in India. The first two assembly sessions will be addressing the latest developments and strategic planning for FEE and its five programmes, whilst at the Members’ Forum sessions, members will have the opportunity to join workshops on the implementation of programmes, projects and campaigns. 15 new organisations are to be confirmed as members of FEE.

The FEE President is elected every four years and the Board of Directors every two. Following the nomination procedure, a new President and Board of Directors will be elected for the period 2016-2020 and 2016-2018 respectively. The coming General Assembly will herald the end of an era with the retirement of Jan Eriksen. Current president and a member of FEE for over 26 years, Jan has steered the organisation through some its most demanding periods of transition and growth and is leaving it as the globally recognised and respected organisation that you know today: a fitting testament to his diligence and commitment to FEE over the years.

The assembly will be followed by the CEE Conference on ‘Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for Transforming Education for Children and Youth’, to take place on 16–18 September 2016. The Conference aims at bringing together global experience and expertise to highlight and strengthen the role of ESD.

About the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) www.fee.global

With members in 75 countries around the world, FEE’s programmes represent the cutting edge in Education for Sustainable Development and Environmental Education. It is the vision of the Foundation for Environmental Education that its programmes empower people everywhere to live sustainably and in an environmentally conscious manner.

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Live Here Love Here Small Grants Scheme Is Now OPEN!

Nicola Fitzsimons   Fri 01 Jul 2016

The third year of the Live Here Love Here Small Grants Scheme will help communities, schools and groups to take practical action to improve their local environment and support the growth of civic pride throughout Northern Ireland.

The environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will be working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Tourism Northern Ireland, local Councils, Choice Housing and Coca-Cola to launch the Live Here Love Here Small Grants Scheme.

The Small Grants Scheme is designed to help groups improve the quality of their local environment by reducing littering and dog fouling; enhancing the environmental management of a local area; contributing to the development of civic pride within a community with a focus on environmental improvements or to enhance or attract tourism to their community through environmental improvements. Interested groups can visit www.liveherelovehere.org for more information and an application pack.

The scheme forms part of the wider Live Here Love Here programme, which includes an innovative media campaign and exciting volunteering opportunities to encourage participation all year round. To learn more please visit www.liveherelovehere.org.

The Small Grants Scheme is open to volunteer groups operating in participating Council areas:

• Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

• Ards and North Down Borough Council

• Belfast City Council

• Choice Housing (NI wide)

• Coca-Cola (NI wide)

• Derry City and Strabane District Council

• Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

• Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

• Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

This year we are pleased to announce that the Live Here Love Here partnership has grown to include Choice Housing Association and Coca-Cola. They will be providing additional funding to groups who are active either within housing association areas or coastal areas and inland waterways respectively.

Groups will need to complete a simple application form detailing how their project will improve their local environment or community through practical action. The deadline for applications is noon on Monday 1st August 2016.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, says: “These small grants support voluntary practical action where people want to grow a strong ‘can-do’ community spirit. It is exciting to see the grant scheme growing with the seven councils, DAERA and Tourism NI now joined by Choice Housing and Coca Cola. This simply means more money reaching the places and people whose ambition is to bring about positive change where they live.”

Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister, Michelle McIlveen, said: “I very much welcome community groups and local organisations getting involved in protecting and promoting their local environment. The more they participate, the more clean and green their neighbourhoods will be. It is fitting, therefore, that my department is supporting the highly successful “Live Here Love Here” campaign, now in its third year. By supporting the campaign my department is helping Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and local councils deliver clear tangible benefits for the local community through this excellent grant scheme.”

Michael McDonnell, Chief Executive of Choice Housing said: “Since launching in 2014, Live Here Love Here has supported groups to take small but important actions that have made a big difference in our communities. We all want cleaner streets, with less mess and graffiti, and more green spaces in our neighbourhoods. These grants give everyone a chance to improve their environment and the sense of pride in the places they live.

“Our partnership with the campaign is one of a series of investments that Choice is committing to this year and that enable people to secure tangible benefits and build stronger community spirit. We hope that our support will help amplify the campaign’s efforts to revitalise and reenergise neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland.”

Gillian Shields, Community Affairs Manager with Coca-Cola HBC NI said: “Having supported the Clean Coast Programme for over 9 years we are delighted to be merging the already existing Coca-Cola Coast Care Grant Scheme with the Live Here Love Here Small Grants Scheme. It is my hope that with this funding a wealth of new projects will come into existence that will have a very real impact on the local community, and that’s something Coca-Cola are very happy to support.”

Andy Patterson at Tourism Northern Ireland, says: “A beautiful environment is part of the tourism fabric of Northern Ireland which our visitors greatly value. Last year’s small grants scheme enabled communities to take the lead in making positive changes in their neighbourhoods and deliver improvements around our coastline. We are delighted to support the Small Grants Scheme once again and we are confident that the projects which are enabled by this fund will add to the positive perceptions and profile of our destination by presenting a cleaner, greener Northern Ireland"

For more information on the live Here Love Here Small Grants Scheme please visit www.liveherelovehere.org or contact Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful on 028 9073 6920.

The International Blue Flag Awards have recognised ten of Northern Ireland’s beaches as “world class” for their facilities and water quality.

The Blue Flag Award recognises beaches with the highest standards of facilities and water quality. This year Northern Ireland can boast of ten beaches and two marinas that have reached this benchmark.

The international Blue Flag award, which is administered locally by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, is a mark of excellence in 49 countries.

The awards are being presented to each beach on 1st June, the first day of the 2016 bathing season, by the International Director of the Blue Flag programme, Sophie Bachet Granados, the new Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen, and Andrew Patterson from Tourism NI, which supports the awards in Northern Ireland at an event in the iconic Arcadia building in Portrush.

Blue Flag beaches offer the highest standard of visitor facilities including toilets, lifeguards if necessary, first aid during peak hours and disabled access onto the beach. In order to promote an inclusive atmosphere for families with small children, activities such as windsurfing are zoned while dogs are not permitted within the Award area.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen said: “I am delighted that once again so many of Northern Ireland’s beaches have received the coveted Blue Flag and Seaside Awards and that our first-class Marinas have also been recognised. These awards are testament to the hard work and dedication of those who manage our beaches. These hard-won awards let people around the world know that Northern Ireland is open for business and that our beaches are first class destinations: clean, healthy and safe to enjoy.”

Mrs Bachet Granados said “I’ve had the chance to see some of the beautiful beaches here and speak to the Operators, and I’m very impressed by the standards. As a mark of excellence recognised across Europe; Africa; North and South America and as of this year Asia, Blue Flag beaches represent the best in coastal recreation management.”

A further eleven beaches have received the Seaside Award, which recognises beaches with safe and clean bathing water as well as appropriate facilities for the number of visitors they receive in both resort and rural settings.

Both awards are predicated upon the bathing water quality at each beach over the past four years, with the requirements laid down by the revised EU Bathing Water Directive. This is the first year since the new stricter classifications were introduced and all 23 identified bathing waters in Northern Ireland have met the minimum standards, something still not achieved in England or Scotland.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “Having Northern Ireland’s world class beaches managed to such high standards is helping improve the quality of our lives as well as attracting visitors. Beach operators are inspirational people showing that all of us can play our part in loving where we live. . And, in most council areas, the Live Here Love Here campaign is building on this to inspire everyone to get involved in creating cleaner, greener and healthier places to live, learn and work.”

With weeks of fine weather in May prompting hopes of a fine 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 highlighting 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.

Join the 4,600 volunteers Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful

Coca-Cola Clean Coast Week 2016 calls for new recruits to join in the Island of Ireland’s Largest Coastal Clean Up!

6th-15th May 2016

The Clean Coast programme saw more than 4,600 volunteers, in 210 community groups, collect a staggering 28 tonnes of litter from the marine environment in Northern Ireland throughout 2015.

Coca-Cola Clean Coast Week 2016, which runs from 6th – 15th May, is now calling for new recruits across Northern Ireland to get involved in the numerous events and clean-ups taking place along coasts, beaches, rivers and loughs around the province throughout the week.

A joint initiative between Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Coca-Cola, the theme of the 2016 awareness week is ‘Enjoy Your Beach, Enjoy Your Beach Clean’. This year’s campaign will run in partnership with An Taisce in the Republic of Ireland and there are a range of cross boarder activities planned including clean up events along Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough and the opportunity for volunteers to travel to Wexford to carry out a special beach clean ahead of a seal release!

The United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimates that 8 million individual litter items enter the marine environment every day. Marine litter includes a range of materials which have been deliberately discarded, or accidentally lost on shore or at sea. It includes materials that are carried out to sea from land, rivers, drainage, sewerage systems and even by the wind.

The Clean Coast programme supports communities who are passionate about caring for Northern Ireland’s coastline and inland waterways, and Coca-Cola Clean Coast Week 2016 will see a range of fun and informative events with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of keeping these important natural resources free from litter. Volunteers across Northern Ireland will demonstrate the ethos of “Live Here Love Here” by organising practical clean-ups to reduce the impact of litter on the marine environment.

Coastal celebrations through the week will range from beach fitness activities in Portballintrae incorporating clean-ups, to a ‘balsam bashing’ event at Lagan Valley Regional Park, to halt the spread of the invasive plant. The Coca-Cola Coast Care Awards and annual photography competition will also launch as part of the celebrations.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said, “The Coca Cola Coast Care programme is making waves with clean-ups removing tonnes of litter from our beautiful coastline. Litter in the sea is a floating time bomb, just waiting to choke marine mammals, turtles and birds. So every piece removed helps save a life. Of course Coast Care volunteers would rather be doing something more constructive than picking up other people’s litter but the mad people are those who don’t put their litter in the bin in the first place.”

2016 sees the 9th year of Coca-Cola’s support of the initiative and Gillian Shields, Community Investment Manager for Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland said, “We are delighted to once again partner with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, encouraging local communities to come together in celebration of the wonderful natural resource that is our extensive coastline.

“As a global company, Coca-Cola has proud sustainability credentials and it is a source of great pride for us that Coca-Cola HBC recently topped the Dow Jones World and Europe Sustainability Indices in the beverage category for a 2nd consecutive year. Our local business makes an important contribution to these results, with ambitious 2020 targets to reduce our impact on the environment, focussing on water, waste and energy usage. We are pleased that we are on track to deliver against our commitments, with some already achieved ahead of schedule.

“Our partnership with Clean Coast is a further demonstration of our commitment to sustainability, and I would like to take the opportunity to encourage all community groups across the country to get involved in their local events and clean-ups, supporting the important goal of keeping our marine environment litter-free.”

For a full schedule of events please visit www.liveherelovehere.org. All Clean Coast Week activities added to the Live Here Love Here website will also contribute to Clean Europe Week as part of this annual Europe-wide clean-up event.

If you would like to make a difference in your area whether it be coastal or an inland waterway then you can get involved by getting in touch with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful by or emailing nicola.murray@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org . Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will be able to support your clean ups with equipment and other means of assistance and you may even be nominated for a prestigious award when the summer is over!

(ENDS)

Further information:

For further information on the Clean Coast Programme in association with Coca-Cola and on Coca Cola Coast Care please contact Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Community Development Officer, Nicola Murray, on 028 9073 6920 or email Nicola.murray@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org Or the Chief Executive, Dr Ian Humphreys, on 028 9073 6920 or email ian.humphreys@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

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Manifesto 2016

David McCann   Wed 30 Mar 2016

We are proud to launch the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful manifesto for the 2016 Assembly election.

We would encourage you to have a read of some of our proposals to make Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener place for all of us to live in.

Please click the link below to find out more.

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KNIB Manifesto

More resources than ever are being devoted to maintaining a clean and welcoming environment in Northern Ireland, according to the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

In a report published today, the environmental charity said that the last year had seen major milestones in the campaign against litter, with record numbers of school children receiving anti-litter education; record numbers of fixed penalties being issued for littering, and a record spend on street cleansing.

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan MLA said, “I welcome the findings of this report and commend Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful for the valuable work they undertake to raise awareness of local environmental quality issues, whether that is by educating our children through the Eco-Schools programme, promoting a cleaner environment through the Live Here, Love Here campaign, or the other initiatives in which they are involved. The improvements highlighted in the report are encouraging and show the value of a multi-faceted approach. We do though have some way to go to eradicate the blight of litter and dog fouling in our towns and countryside and on our beaches. However, this report does show that central and local government, working in partnership with organisations such as KNIB, can make an impact. I am proud to have supported KNIB’s activities over a number of years and look forward to government continuing that partnership.”

This intensification of efforts by Councils was welcomed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful CEO, Dr Ian Humphreys, who said “£40 million a year on street cleansing is an enormous cost but actually many hidden costs make the final bill far greater. For example, studies have shown that high levels of litter correlate with increased rates of depression and other mental health problems. The result is an estimated £15 million drained from already stretched NHS finances.”

During the academic year ending in June 2015 Northern Ireland became the first country in the world to have every school in the country registered with the Eco-schools programme, which has anti-littering and respect for the environment at its core.

A record number of Fixed Penalties Notices were issued for littering and dog fouling during 2014-15, the most recent period for which figures are available. However, the official figures highlight the postcode lottery for fixed penalties, with 49% being issued in Belfast, and a further 18% in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District.

Dr Humphreys continued “This shows how councils are prepared to take action against the minority of people who continue to go against what is normal and acceptable. These figures show people who litter that they are ever more likely to be caught and fined.

The charity also calls on other Statutory Undertakers such as the DRD Roads Service and Rivers Agency to match the efforts made by Councils, with litter on roadside verges and in streams frequently putting off tourists and businesses and hurting our economy. Dr Humphreys said “Councils are not the only organisations with litter cleansing responsibilities, but they are the only ones working hard to fulfil them. In April every year we hold a Big Spring Clean, with around 90,000 volunteers taking part in 2015. A large number of those people are cleaning up roadside verges, open spaces and the banks of streams because it isn’t being done by the organisations responsible for them.”

All of this effort taken together has led to an improvement in the litter levels around the country. The headline figure – the percentage of places surveyed which are deemed ‘unacceptable’ – fell from 17% in 2014 to 12% in 2015, following three years of worsening results.

Dr Humphreys concluded “Coming as it does when people are beginning to think about spending more time outdoors on warmer days and brighter evenings, this report is positive news, but it’s also a call to action for everybody to play their part and show they live here and love here.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are calling for community groups, schools, businesses and individuals across Northern Ireland to show that they Live Here and they Love Here by getting involved in the Big Spring Clean.

Litter can blight our towns, villages, beaches, roadsides and countryside and make us feel a little less than proud of our beautiful surrounds. In April Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will call for everybody to say, ‘Live Here Love Here’ and will be working in partnership with local councils, Department for the Environment and Tourism Northern Ireland to support clean ups throughout Northern Ireland.

Big Spring Clean now forms part of the wider Live Here Love Here campaign which educates and empowers communities to take action and do the right thing to tackle litter and create a sense of community pride throughout the province.

People power is an amazing thing – during last year’s Big Spring Clean over 89,506 people participated in cleaning up their local area and removing over 107 tonnes of litter ensuring that we Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said “Litter is a blot on our landscape that threatens the clean, green credentials for which the Emerald Isle is known. This is our home and we should take pride in it. I am calling for as many volunteers as possible to join the Big Spring Clean – let’s work together to make it a clean sweep and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.”

Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful added, “Last year one in every 20 people in Northern Ireland took part in a clean-up during The BIG Spring Clean. That’s up from just 2,500 individuals back in 2010. Why? Because we all want a better place to live, and this is a great opportunity to do something positive about it. Join us and help reduce the £40,000,000 a year street cleaning bill for ratepayers.”

Throughout April we are calling for your support once again, to find out more information and to register your Big Spring Clean online please visit www.liveherelovehere.org and we will send you a FREE clean up kit to help with your event.

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Nicola Murray, Community Development Officer on 028 9073 6920

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive on 028 9073 6925

Carmel Fyfe, Operations Manager on 02890736920

Note to Editors

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is an environmental charity working towards the vision of a beautiful Northern Ireland by inspiring people to take responsibility for creating cleaner, greener and more sustainable communities.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful runs a number of awareness raising campaigns including Live Here Love Here, BIG Spring Clean, Clean Coast and Adopt A Spot. The charity also runs the Green Flag Award for parks and open spaces, Seaside and Green Coast Awards, the international Blue Flag (for beaches and marinas) and Eco-Schools all of which set environmental quality standards.

Live Here Love Here is a national campaign aimed at promoting civic pride and a community can-do attitude by improving environmental quality in Northern Ireland. By tackling issues such as poor environmental quality, littering and dilapidation, by encouraging volunteers to take practical action in their local communities. By working together, we can start to tackle the negative impact of littering, dog fouling and other environmental behaviours to bring about positive change to our communities. Live Here Love Here is an inspiring partnership between the Department of the Environment, Tourism Northern Ireland and a number of local authorities, working alongside Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Street cleansing costs ratepayers close to £40 million every year and of the minority of people who admit to littering fewer still receive fines.

To learn more please visit; www.liveherelovehere.org .

Live Here Love Here is a partnership between Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the Department of the Environment, Tourism Northern Ireland and participating local Councils:

o Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

o Ards and North Down Borough Council

o Belfast City Council

o Derry City and Strabane District Council

o Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

o Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

o Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

All on board for launch of Marine Conservation Zone consultation

Web Administrator   Mon 14 Dec 2015   updated: Wed 20 Jan 2016

The Northern Ireland Marine Task Force (NIMTF), a coalition of ten environmental organisations including Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, today launched a campaign to support the designation of areas of marine conservation importance in Northern Ireland.

The campaign is focused on urging the public to respond to the Department of the Environment’s public consultation, launched today, on four proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) located at Carlingford Lough, Waterfoot, Rathlin Island and Outer Belfast Lough. The Task Force says these new MCZ’s will play a vital role in protecting the natural resources of our local seas, from strengthening the network of Marine Protected Areas to promoting more sustainable fishing, for a better future for all.

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan was given a marine tour of Belfast Lough on board ‘The Mona’. Speaking afterwards he commented:

“Marine Conservation Zones conserve the diversity of rare, and threatened habitats and species in our waters.

“Designating Marine Conservation Zones will be an important step towards protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of our seas, helping protect important marine habitats and species. As well as protecting nationally important marine wildlife, the Zones will also protect geological features in these waters.

“I would like to thank the Northern Ireland Marine Taskforce for supporting the proposals. This is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and appreciation for our important marine environment.”

NIMTF believe the establishment of new MCZs is vital to strengthen and protect vulnerable wildlife and marine communities such as the black guillemot, seagrass meadows and the ocean quahog, a large clam that lives buried in the sediment of Belfast Lough. The ocean quahog is a fascinating, long-lived species which can reach more than 500 years of age. The oldest recorded living ocean quahogs in Belfast Lough will have been present for the departure of the Titanic and both World Wars.

In the New Year environmental experts from NIMTF will embark on a campaign roadshow to meet and engage with politicians, community groups and individuals located close to each of the proposed MCZ’s.

Speaking following the campaign launch, Rebecca Hunter Northern Ireland Marine Task Force Officer said:

“Northern Ireland is home to some of Europe’s most unique and important marine wildlife and we believe that Marine Conservation Zones provide a real opportunity to help the recovery of our valuable seas.

“In January and February we will be visiting local communities across Northern Ireland to engage with schools, community groups, businesses and political audiences on the proposed MCZs and how we believe they will help protect the natural resources of our seas for a richer future for everyone. We hope MCZs will have the support not just of nature and wildlife lovers from across Northern Ireland but from every citizen who values all that our seas provide.

“We support the designation of the new MCZs for Northern Ireland however we believe that more needs to be done to ensure an effective network of Marine Protected Areas is created. We are looking forward to hearing proposals for further MCZs which are vital for ensuring a future for our local seas. We would encourage all interested parties to support our campaign and respond to the Department’s consultation.”

For more information on NIMTF’s campaign visit www.nimtf.org or join the conversation @NIMTF and use hashtag #seachangeni. The Department’s consultation documents can be found at www.doeni.gov.uk/consultations.

Commission puts litter prevention on the map at EU level

Web Administrator   Fri 04 Dec 2015   updated: Wed 20 Jan 2016

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful welcomes the pioneering measures put forward by the European Commission to tackle litter prevention. These were put forward recently as part of the new legislative proposals on waste released as part of the EU Circular Economy package. The waste proposals specifically recognise that: “Littering has direct detrimental impacts on the environment and the wellbeing of citizens, and high clean-up costs are an unnecessary economic burden for society. The introduction of specific measures in waste management plans and proper enforcement by competent authorities should help eradicate this problem.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has calculated the average cost to ratepayers of cleaning our streets at £38m a year and the Clean Europe Network, of which the charity is a founding member, estimates that litter clean-up costs the taxpayer €11 to €13 billion annually in the EU, public money which could, in part at least, be better spent on other priorities.

The wind and waterways carry litter all across the continent to the seas and the ocean. As 80% of marine litter comes from the land, the problem in our seas cannot be tackled realistically without stopping littering on the land. The Commission proposals presented on 2 December are thus a major step forward for litter prevention across the EU.

Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “The Commission has started a process at EU level which we believe will lead to a better sharing of responsibility for litter prevention among all stakeholders. The Commission is giving impetus to work that will make a difference to all our lives. Given our unique engagement with citizens concerned with litter across Northern Ireland, we are eager to assist central and local government, public agencies and industry bodies to develop meaningful action plans and long term strategies that will engage the public and deliver positive change to the littering behaviour of people who live here.”

If adopted, the legislation will require governments to develop a litter prevention strategy in their national waste management plans. The latter must be prepared periodically and shared with Brussels. From now on, these national plans will need to combat all forms of littering and clean-up all types of litter (that could include, for example, tobacco waste, chewing gum, packaging, newspapers and magazines, tissue paper, and others). The legislation will also require EU member states to implement proper enforcement and penalties.

The proposals require producers to take on the communication of litter prevention information to citizens. This obligation would be implemented in practice via the so-called “producer responsibility organisations” (set up at national level) to manage collectively the individual responsibility of companies to guarantee appropriate collection and waste management of end-of-life products.

Awards and Rewards for Volunteers at Prestigious Coast Care Awards

---   Wed 28 Oct 2015   updated: Wed 20 Jan 2016

Photo

Volunteers who have gone the extra mile to clean up and look after our coastline, loughs and inland waterways have been recognised by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful as part of the prestigious Coca-Cola Coast Care Awards and Seminar event held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Anna Lo, Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment, presented the dedicated volunteers with their awards along with Northern Ireland’s very own mentalist David Meade who hosted the event.

The Coca-Cola Coast Care programme supports the work of volunteers who clean up beaches, rivers and loughs throughout Northern Ireland. With the continued support of Coca-Cola and Tourism Northern Ireland, Coast Care Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding work of local people who are passionate about caring for Northern Ireland’s coastline, loughs and inland waterways and who carry out practical work in a bid to reduce the impact of litter and other environmental damage to preserve the natural beauty of these areas.

To celebrate the continued success of these awards, two worthy groups were awarded funding through the Live Here Love Here Coca-Cola Community Grant Scheme for coastal and inland waterway projects that demonstrate a benefit to their local environment or wider community.

The Live Here Love Here Coca-Cola Community Grants Scheme forms part of the wider Live Here Love Here programme, aimed at promoting civic pride within communities and improving environmental quality.

The day awards and rewards even celebrated the beauty of Northern Ireland’s Coastline and Inland waterways through the Picture Perfect Award supported by Tourism Northern Ireland, this award captures our beautiful scenery through one single stunning photograph.

Speaking about the event, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said, “I thoroughly commend the dedication and commitment of those individuals of all ages and across the North who selflessly give up their spare time to ensure that our stunningly beautiful coastline and waterways are kept in pristine condition. I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one for the vitally important contribution they make.

“This year we saw the introduction of new, tighter EU standards for bathing water quality. In spite of this, our bathing waters still performed extremely well and are in fact among the best in Europe. And it is in no small measure that our army of volunteers help to build upon and improve our coastal areas as fantastic places to spend time.

“I would encourage others to follow their shining example and get involved, whether in one of the many existing projects or to get inspired and start one in your own area. Perhaps you know of a stretch of overgrown waterway or corner of our coastline which would really benefit from some TLC. We want to hear from you.”

Chair of the Committee for the Environment, Anna Lo said: “It is only right that we take the time to recognise and appreciate the enthusiasm and hard work of our volunteers. Each volunteer devotes so much of their spare time to improve, protect and enhance our natural environment; so that we can all enjoy the benefits that that brings. Their commitment and work should not be underestimated.”

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “Our long-standing relationship with Coca-Cola to reward the hard work, community spirit and sheer persistence of volunteers who regularly clean up our coast and inland waterways is simply inspiring. At this event we take a little time to celebrate the achievements of passionate ‘can-do’ people to keep Northern Ireland’s shores, loughs, canals and rivers beautiful. Through their freely given time it is obvious they really do live here and love here. To everyone involved, well done and thank you.”

Gillian Shields, Community Engagement Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland said: “We are delighted to partner with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and support the Clean Coast and Coast Care programmes. These awards recognise and reward the tremendous contribution and practical action being taken by individual and groups across Northern Ireland in looking after our much treasured beaches and waterways. Congratulations to all the beach managers and local communities from around Northern Ireland on achieving these prestigious awards."

John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI, said; “Northern Ireland boasts some of the most spectacular coastline in Europe and this is one of our greatest tourism assets. Volunteers and community groups make a huge contribution to taking care of our coast and we are delighted that that these efforts are being recognised through the Coast Care Awards. Tourism NI is again proud to sponsor the Community Contribution to Tourism Award and the Picture Perfect Award.”

List of Coca-Cola Coast Care Award Winners 2015 Award Winners:

• Coca-Cola Coast Care Group

Love Your Lough (Newry, Mourne and Down District Council)

• Coca-Cola Inland Waterway Group

TRAAD Wildlife & Conservation Club (Mid Ulster District Council)

• Brighter Futures

Mill Strand Integrated Primary School (Causeway Coast and Glens District Council)

• Better Business Partnership

Translink Downpatrick (Newry, Mourne and Down District Council)

• Community Contribution to Tourism Award (Tourism Northern Ireland)

Grey Point Fort Amateur Radio Society (Ards and North Down District Council)

• Youth in Action

James Burke, IWAI Newry and Portadown Branch (Newry, Mourne and Down District Council)

• Local Hero

Dan Lavery, Longline Surf School (Causeway Coast and Glens District Council)

• Picture Perfect (Tourism Northern Ireland)

David McKechnie

Recipients of Live Here Love Here Coca-Cola Community Grant Scheme

1. Environment Support Team (Causeway Coast and Glens/Mid and East Antrim)

2. Newry & Portadown branch Inland Waterway Association Ireland

Litter Groups And Businesses Unite To Call On Government To Take A Lead On Litter

Web Administrator   Thu 03 Sep 2015   updated: Tue 20 Oct 2015

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is one of 23 major national litter groups and business organisations to have made a joint plea to Government to take a firm lead on litter.

In a letter to the Secretaries of State and Ministers at Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government, the 23 signatories ask the Westminster Government to form an Advisory Committee on Litter in order to deliver a National Litter Action Plan to eliminate all litter. The signatories already have a draft paper that could inform the development of the National Litter Action Plan.

The Advisory Committee will create a single channel to focus resources and will provide advice and expertise to Government Departments and Local Authorities. It will enable all parties to work together, encourage a more consistent message on littering and will also demonstrate Government commitment to reducing all litter. As stated in the letter, “The formation of an Advisory Committee is an unparalleled opportunity to take a major step to reduce the societal impact of all litter. Without such Government leadership, efforts to deal with littering will continue to be fragmented and so less effective in delivering significant reductions in littering and in the costs of dealing with it”.

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Advisory Committee on Litter

3,000 Hours Volunteered to Clean Northern Ireland’s Beaches

Web Administrator   Fri 21 Aug 2015   updated: Tue 20 Oct 2015

The average kilometre of beach in Northern Ireland has over 5,000 pieces of litter on it.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has been counting the litter on beaches from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough for the past three years, and the 2015 results are the worst yet. On the fourteen reference beaches, an average of 1,500 bits of plastic, 425 plastic drinks bottles and 180 cotton buds per kilometre were observed.

At least 80% of the litter was made of plastic and likely to be recyclable.

Chris Allen, who managed the survey for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “These are pretty stark figures. This report suggests that more litter is being dumped on our beaches, not less. Setting aside the dangers to wildlife, much of our country’s economic prosperity is based on our natural heritage, and we are just trashing it. We have world-class beaches in this country. They fly Blue Flags for excellent facilities; they set the scene for enormously successful TV shows; tens of thousands of visitors come to enjoy them, but they are frequently covered in a load of plastic bottles, crisp packets and bits of string. Would you come back? Would you bring your friends?”

Rubbish along shore

The figures were collected as part of a European requirement to monitor the amount and impact of litter in the sea, where it kills wildlife and damages boats.

Chris went on “Winter storms dumped tonnes of litter onto some beaches overnight, suggesting there is a huge reservoir of litter already in the sea, and we are just adding to it. We must come to terms with the damage we are doing to our own health and prosperity by dropping litter.”

It’s not all bad news though. The charity reports that they had well over 3,000 hours volunteered by people keen to improve their local beach and protect its wildlife, which resulted in almost 15.5 tonnes of litter being removed. The effect the carrier bag levy is also beginning to be seen, with no increase in the number of bags despite the growth in amount of litter overall.

Rubbish along shore

Chris continued “Through volunteering programmes such as Live Here Love Here and Coast Care the people of Northern Ireland have demonstrated their appetite to be involved in and making a positive change to the places they enjoy. We support that, and we as a society should encourage it at every opportunity.”

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NI marine litter report 2014 (filesize >13Mb)

Hedgehog decline - Durkan backs schools hedgehog campaign

Web Administrator   Mon 06 Jul 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, today launched a rallying call for people to protect hedgehogs.

In the 1950's it was estimated there were 36.5million hedgehogs in Britain. It seems likely that there are now fewer than a million hedgehogs left.

Hedgehogs play a positive role in our gardens by feeding on slugs and snails and are one of our priority species.

The Minister has teamed up with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB) to back the Eco-Schools hedgehog campaign here.

Speaking at Ballycraigy Primary School, Antrim which has its own “Hedgehog House” Mark H Durkan said: “36.5million hedgehogs in the 1950s with fewer than one million now. The statistics speak for themselves. We need to wake up to this before they disappear. That is why I am very much backing this schools campaign for people to protect them. Hedgehogs are very much a gardener’s friend. Their diet includes many garden pests including slugs, snails and mice. Leaving food out for them at night may attract one into your garden.

“As well as supplementary feeding, you can literally give hedgehogs a home in your green space by providing suitable habitat. They like thick dense undergrowth and a variety of lengths of grass which is a great excuse for a ‘wild’ area in your garden. Alternatively you can easily build a ‘hedgehog hotel’. A simple wooden box design with entrance holes and a watertight lid makes the perfect home for them.”

Minister Durkan visited two schools, Ballycraigy Primary in Antrim and Elmgrove in East Belfast to see at first hand work being undertaken by pupils to help preserve the hedgehog.

The Minister continued: “Our young people care deeply about the environment, something that we can all learn from and encourage. I believe passionately that this work with schools is vital for the local environment and wider community.

“I commend both Ballycraigy Primary and Elmgrove Primary in their efforts to protect our hedgehog population. I’m always happy to tackle the prickly issues of the day and I believe it is important that we all make a contribution to protecting hedgehog numbers.

“Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful plays a key role in promoting simple measures that can make a big difference through our highly successful Eco-Schools programme, to protect the hedgehog.”

Belfast schools waste no time in recycling with a Wheelie Big Challenge

Web Administrator   Wed 01 Jul 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Schools from all across Belfast gathered at Belfast City Hall on 4th June to celebrate environmental success with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools and Belfast City Council’s Wheelie Big Challenge.

The event was held in the spectacular setting of the Great Hall in Belfast City Hall. Schools were invited to present their final findings and actions for this year’s Wheelie Big Challenge. The project asked pupils in 30 Belfast schools to investigate and engage in practical actions to reduce waste in school and at home by reducing, reusing and recycling.

Lisnasharragh Primary School took first place in the Primary category and taking second in the same category were St Teresa’s Primary School and joint third places Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School and Holy Family Primary School.

Victoria College took first place in the Post Primary category and taking second and third places in the same category were St Louise’s Comprehensive College and Methodist College respectively.

All schools attending set up brilliant displays highlighting the work they had done for the Wheelie Big Challenge which included everything from worms to Eco-robots and welly-boot planters. Some schools had moved from having no recycling in school to having as much as 80% of their rubbish recycled by the end of the Challenge.

Six schools were also officially presented with the prestigious and internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award for excellence in environmental work in their schools: Victoria College, Donegall Road Primary School, Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Botanic Primary School, Lisnasharragh Primary School and St Peter’s Nursery School.

George Lyttle, Waste Manager, Belfast City Council, said: “It’s fantastic to see the effort and team work that these children have put in, to bring the “reduce, reuse, recycle” message to life in such a creative way. Congratulations to all the schools who made it through to the finals. It was also great to be able to celebrate the achievement of the Belfast schools receiving Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation”

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “Congratulations to all the Schools receiving awards today through the Wheelie Big Challenge and Eco-Schools programme. Today was a wonderful opportunity to reward the efforts being made by those in the local area doing their bit to make Belfast a cleaner, greener and more sustainable place in which to live and we are delighted to be supported by Belfast City Council in recognising these efforts.”

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, sponsored by SSE Airtricity, is a free to enter programme. Eco-Schools work through a simple seven step process to implement behavioural change and study a range of topics, such as waste. By participating in projects like the Wheelie Big Challenge schools are able to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable as they work through their Eco-Schools Programme.

Schools who would like to get involved in the Eco-Schools Programme, or who would like to find out more, are asked to visit www.eco-schoolsni.org.

Eco-Schools is a global, student-led phenomenon, the world's leading environmental education programme and one of the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) programmes. It makes environmental awareness and practical action an intrinsic part of school life.

Eco-Schools is operated here by environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, which is dedicated to making Northern Ireland a cleaner and more pleasant place. The programme has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few years with support from the Department of the Environment and sponsorship from SSE Airtricity.

Environment Minister, Mark H. Durkan, whose department supports the Programme said:

“This is a tremendous achievement for schools. Our young people have a proud history spanning over twenty years with a local school being the first in the world to be awarded an Eco-Schools Green Flag Award. The fact that every school is actively working towards getting the international Green Flag Award is testament to how important the environment is to young people.

“Getting young people involved is critical if we are to sustain our environment. During my many visits to schools I have seen at first-hand how young people of all ages are making a real difference, altering attitudes, behaviours, making real savings and contributing to a better environment.”

This year Northern Ireland became the first country out of the 59 countries in the international programme to reach 100% participation with all schools here registering to take part. This landmark achievement is testimony to the enthusiasm and determination of Northern Ireland’s pupils to make a difference and change their environment for the better.

This 20th anniversary year of the programme has also seen a record breaking number of schools in Northern Ireland achieving the pinnacle of the programme, the prestigious and internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag Award. 128 schools received the award in recognition of the excellent progress they have been making in protecting the environment and moving towards a more sustainable future.

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “It is hugely encouraging to see the many benefits of the Eco-Schools programme, such as better pupil engagement, cost savings and environmental improvement, being shared by every school in Northern Ireland. Congratulations to all our Eco-Schools on their fantastic achievements this year and we look forward to seeing more and more of our schools achieving the prestigious Green Flag award.”

Paul Cooley, Head of SSE Airtricity's Renewables Business, the Principal Sponsors of the Eco-Schools Programme added: “We’re extremely proud to be associated with Eco-Schools and I’d personally like to congratulate all 1178 schools involved in the programme and in particular the 128 schools who have achieved Green Flag status this year.”

List of schools achieving the Green Flag Award in 2014-15.

County Down beaches go green - in a good way!

Web Administrator   Thu 25 Jun 2015   updated: Tue 20 Oct 2015

Five beaches along the East coast of Northern Ireland have received awards for their environmental management.

Newcastle, Murlough, Tyrella Beach, Cranfield West and Helen’s Bay and received their awards at Helen’s Bay in Crawfordsburn Country Park on 25th June, joining 30 beaches in Wales and 58 in the Republic of Ireland who have also received the award.

Rubbish along shore

Cloughey beach on the Ards Peninsula received a pilot Award while Ards and North Down Borough Council completes the adoption of the beach and Warren.

The Green Coast Awards are supported by Coca-Cola and are part of a wider eco-management and volunteering programme run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The aim of the Award is to recognise beaches for their high environmental quality.

To achieve the award, beaches must have excellent water quality and have effective and appropriate management which ensures the protection of the natural environment.

Chris Allen, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Local Environmental Quality Manager said, “These beaches are exceptional places to visit for their unspoilt natural beauty. They may not all have the infrastructure or facilities available on our Blue Flag beaches, but that is no criticism: These beaches are all clean, safe and environmentally friendly, and we should be proud that we have these natural gems on our doorstep.”

Gillian Shields, Community Investment Manager with Coca-Cola, said, “We are proud to support the Green Coast Awards and Clean Coasts Programme.

As a local company we have been investing in community projects for some 75 years and are proud to partner with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, an organisation that is committed to protecting our local environment and championing environmental change for coastlines throughout Northern Ireland.”

Green Coast Award beaches generally have strong community involvement, with local people given the opportunity to take part in the management process; everything from helping to keep it free of litter through to having a say in development decisions.

If you would like to help make a difference in your area whether it be a coastal or an inland waterway then you can get involved by getting in touch with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful by ringing 02890 736 920 or emailing Nicola.Murray@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful may be able to support your events such as local clean-ups with equipment and other means of assistance and you may even be nominated for a Coast Care Award at the end of the summer!

1 comment

Web Administrator   Thu 30 Jul 2015   updated: Tue 20 Oct 2015

Correction on 30 July 2015:

The original posting of this story stated that Minerstown beach had received a Green Coast award. We incorrectly recorded that an award had been made when in fact the beach operator, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, did not make an application for this beach for 2015.

Pupils make smart moves to travel challenge victory!

Web Administrator   Mon 15 Jun 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Translink & Eco Schools celebrate rise in school sustainable journeys

Translink and Eco Schools have joined forces to reward local schools who have made smart moves to tackle car dependency in Northern Ireland by choosing to use more sustainable transport.

Over a two week period, pupils in 31 local schools participated in the ‘Translink Eco Schools Travel Challenge’ with 1176 pupils monitoring their travel patterns and making an effort to walk, cycle, use the bus or train for the school run.

During the Challenge, there was a massive shift away from car use to sustainable travel meaning over half of all journeys made were sustainable, totalling a distance of 37,027km. If all 1,178 schools (320,000 pupils) in Northern Ireland took part in the challenge adopting a similar percentage of sustainable journeys, an estimated 453,108 litres of fuel could be saved annually and 1,365,712 car journeys per year could be removed from local roads, significantly reducing congestion at school gates.

Ulidia Integrated College – Carrickfergus, St Ciaran’s Primary School, Cushendun, St Colmcille’s PS – Downpatrick and Holy Cross PS – Atticall were the top performers in the initiative that aimed to encourage school pupils and parents to choose more environmentally-friendly transport modes.

The Eco Schools Green Flag Award also went to Barbour Nursery School, Dundonald PS, Ulidia Integrated College, St Malachy’s PS – Camlough, St Joseph’s Nursery School, Antrim and St Bride’s Primary School in Belfast following successful completion of the travel challenge.

Termoncanice Primary School – Limavady also won an Ulsterbus Tours educational class coach trip and day out in Dublin.

Speaking at a Prize Giving Ceremony in Belfast Central Station, Gordon Milligan, Translink Chief HR & Corporate Services Officer, said:

“Congratulations to all 31 schools who have successfully completed the travel challenge. You’re all ‘smart movers’ embracing the lifestyle benefits of sustainable transport.

“Leaving the car at home, offers parents and pupils many advantages: more free time on board bus or rail services to relax and de-stress; save money with good value tickets; use free WiFi;, reduce journey times; avoid parking issues; produce less pollution and improve health by introducing regular exercise into daily routines.

“Last year, over 80 million bus and rail passenger journeys were made in Northern Ireland – an increase of 2.8 million fare-paying passengers in the past three years – as more and more people make the smart move to a more sustainable and attractive lifestyle.

“We were pleased to work in partnership with Eco Schools to deliver the travel challenge and look forward to educating more pupils about the benefits of sustainable travel,” said Gordon.

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said:

"The Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge is a fun way to educate our young people on the positive reasons for using sustainable transport and it is wonderful to see so many pupils getting involved.

"Encouraging sustainable transport use is a key topic in the Eco-Schools programme and we are delighted to once again be supported by Translink with the Travel Challenge which is a great way for schools to work towards achieving the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag. Congratulations to all those schools which participated in the challenge."

Schools interested in participating in the next Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge as part of the Eco-Schools Awards Scheme can call 028 9073 6920 or click www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/. For details on Ulsterbus Tours Educational Trips click www.ulsterbustours.com or call 028 9033 7004.

Schools across Northern Ireland take top awards at the SSE Airtricity and Eco-Schools Global Wind Awards

Web Administrator   Tue 09 Jun 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Schools from all across Northern Ireland celebrated their achievements in environmental and energy saving projects at the 2015 SSE Airtricity and Eco-Schools Global Wind Awards, held in Derry~Londonderry’s Everglades Hotel. The Eco-Schools programme is run by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, sponsored by SSE Airtricity and supported by the Department of the Environment.

Pupils from Fairview Primary School, Ballyclare and Holy Trinity College, Cookstown have been awarded the title of Northern Ireland’s leading primary and post-primary Eco-Committees of the year at the annual awards.

The Eco-Committee of the Year award recognised the special role of both Fairview’s and Holy Trinity’s Eco-Committees in helping drive the Eco-Schools programme within their school. This year saw Fairview awarded their 3rd Green Flag and Holy Trinity their first. Both schools were noted to be outstanding in the amount of environmental projects they are involved in and the strength of their actions both in school and their communities.

Fairview Primary School has also been awarded the title of Northern Ireland’s leading primary school in Operation Energy Project of the Year, along with St Colm’s High School in Draperstown who took the award in the post-primary category.

The Operation Energy Project of the Year award recognised the special efforts made by both Fairview and St Colm’s, in studying the Eco-Schools Energy topic. St Colm’s held a school-wide Power Down Day in November which saw them save a potential £40.00 a day on their energy bill. Pupils are keen to continue the energy and money saving drive at school.

Also honoured at the 2015 SSE Airtricity and Eco-Schools Global Wind Awards was the Guiney Family and their daughter, Ava, who attends Cairnshill Primary School, Belfast who won the Family Energy Champions Poster Competition with their creative poster which highlighted their top energy saving tips at home.

Pupils received their awards from Mark H Durkan, Minister for the Environment, who said: “These awards are an important and fitting recognition of the efforts of our young people, teachers and also their wider families in looking after our environment and saving energy.

“Whenever I visit Eco-Schools I see the passion, pride and potential of the people who will be the next generation of leaders and workers in all walks of life. I take great pride in being here today to recognise these achievements. All entrants should be very proud of your work. Seeing the energy and enthusiasm displayed by all of you, and the other Eco-Schools, gives me tremendous hope for the future of our environment.”

The day itself saw 100 pupils and guests take a specially guided tour of SSE Airtricity’s 76MW Slieve Kirk Wind Park, and experience the power of wind up close, even going inside the turbines.

Josh Bradley, Communications Manager, SSE Airtricity said: “This year’s awards, as in the past two years, have been a great indication as to just how enthusiastic and dedicated Northern Ireland’s Eco-Schools are when it comes to studying energy and the environment. It is great to be able to recognise their achievements here at the Global Wind Awards.”

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, commented: “Congratulations to the winning schools and indeed to all the finalists. Our young people care deeply about the environment and through their Eco-Schools work are making a positive change to their wider communities. It is wonderful to see the schools excelling in such a prestigious international programme and we are delighted to be supported by SSE Airtricity in rewarding them through these very special Global Wind Awards.”

Operation Energy is a free teaching resource developed by SSE Airtricity and Eco-Schools and is available at www.operation-energy.com.

Ten Blue Flags and a 25th anniversary celebration for Northern Irish beaches

Web Administrator   Thu 21 May 2015   updated: Tue 20 Oct 2015

Northern Ireland’s stunning coastline has long been hailed as a match of anything in the world, but now Benone beach on the north coast is celebrating an achievement very few places in the world can match, having just claimed its 25th consecutive Blue Flag. The international award, which recognises first class facilities and the highest standards of water quality, was presented to Benone and nine other beaches as well as two marinas at a ceremony on Portstewart Strand.

A further ten beaches have received the UK-wide Seaside Award, which recognises resort and rural beaches with good water quality. After a difficult summer season last year, with heavy rainfall affecting water quality on a number of occasions, this is an excellent result.

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.”

25th anniversary celebration

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.”

25th anniversary celebration

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. Seaside Awards Resort beaches often have many of the same facilities as Blue Flag beaches, while Rural beaches have fewer facilities and are more unspoilt in their character. Dogs are allowed on most Seaside Award beaches as long as they are kept on leads.

25th anniversary celebration

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.”

25th anniversary celebration

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.

David Meade adds a Little Magic to Clean Coast Week

Web Administrator   Thu 07 May 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Northern Ireland’s very own mentalist David Meade has once again shown that he Lives Here and Loves Here by launching ‘Coca-Cola Coast Care’. This joint initiative between Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland supports volunteers who clean up beaches, rivers and loughs around the province.

The Programme supports local people who are passionate about caring for Northern Ireland’s coastline and inland waterways. They show they Live Here and Love Here by carrying out practical work in a bid to reduce the impact of litter and tackling wider environmental issues.

With the onset of summer more people are hitting the coast. Thankfully, most people take their rubbish home but a thoughtless few are leaving their litter lying.This spoils the visitor experience for others. In 2014 we worked with over 4,000 individuals who joined in Coast Care activities including cleaning up other people’s rubbish.

This year the Coca-Cola Clean Coast Week will take place between 8th and 17th May with activities ranging from cross-border events along Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough with An Taisce, Rock pool Rambles with Ulster Wildlife to a Golf Themed clean up with Tourism Northern Ireland. For a full schedule of events please visit www.liveherelovehere.org.

All Clean Coast Week activities added to the Live Here Love Here website will also contribute to Clean Europe Week as part of this annual Europe-wide clean-up event.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said, “Coast Care volunteers really are setting the standard for how we want where we live to look. Of course most people don’t drop litter, but it takes a special person to care enough to clean up other people’s rubbish. This hugely important initiative with Coca Cola is ensuring these special individuals can play their part in helping us all, whether local or tourist, to enjoy our world class coast and waterways.”

2015 will be the eighth year in which Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Coca-Cola have worked together in a bid to make our shores a cleaner and safer place.

Gillian Shields, Community Investment Manager for Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland said, “Coca-Cola is committed to investing in the local environment, protecting the natural beauty of our beaches and encouraging community participation in preserving our landscape. The Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week emphasises the important role that we can all play, in conserving our marine environment. We are delighted to once again partner with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful in support of this initiative, where all across the country, local communities will be coming together to celebrate the wonderful natural resource that is our extensive coastline.”

If you would like to make a difference in your area whether it be coastal or an inland waterway then you can get involved by getting in touch with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful by ringing 02890 736 920 or emailing nicola.murray@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will be able to support your clean ups with equipment and other means of assistance and you may even be nominated for a prestigious award when the summer is over!

Global Wind Awards energise Eco-Schools achievements

Web Administrator   Mon 20 Apr 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

SSE Airtricity and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools are delighted to announce the third year of the Global Wind Awards. Schools from across Northern Ireland are invited to nominate their Eco-Committee and Operation Energy projects for the annual awards ceremony held at Slieve Kirk Wind Farm in June.

The Awards have been a great success in past years with pupils enjoying the opportunity to get up close to, and even inside, the wind turbines and learn all about wind power and renewable energy. New to the Awards this year is a Family Energy Champions category which invites pupils to investigate what they do at home to save energy and involve family members in making a creative poster highlighting their top energy saving tips.

Dundonald Primary School have taken part in SSE Airtricity’s Operation Energy, Power Down Day, for the past two years, saving over 20% of their energy usage on the day. They have just achieved their first Eco-Schools internationally recognised Green Flag Award and are excited by the prospect of having their energy saving efforts recognised in the Global Wind Awards.

Visiting the school Josh Bradley, Communications Manager, from SSE Airtricity said: “The pupils at Dundonald have an infectious enthusiasm for learning about energy, so it’s great that their efforts have now been recognised with an Eco-Schools Green Flag. At SSE Airtricity, we’re delighted to be powering the Global Wind Awards for a third year. The commitment shown by teachers and pupils across Northern Ireland to the Eco-Schools programme deserves to be celebrated and rewarded. The event itself has been a roaring success in the last two years, and I’m sure it will be even bigger and better this time around.”

Eco-Schools Northern Ireland have cause to celebrate this year as they mark their 20th anniversary and being the first country in the world to achieve 100% registration. SSE Airtricity have been principal sponsors of Eco-Schools in Northern Ireland for the past four years and actively support the energy topic with their free Operation Energy teaching resources.

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said:

“The Global Wind Awards are a special opportunity to recognise the dedication of Eco-Schools to looking after the environment. It is clear that Eco-Schools are extremely interested in learning more about energy efficiency and working with SSE Airtricity is a really great way to help schools with this.”

Full details of how to enter the SSE Airtricity and Eco-Schools Global Wind Awards can be found on the Eco-Schools website in the Competitions page or contact eco-schools@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org. The closing date for entries is Friday 8th May.

It’s Time for The BIG Spring Clean!

Web Administrator   Fri 03 Apr 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is asking community groups and individuals from all over Northern Ireland to register to take part in the BIG Spring Clean. Together we can all do one small thing, such as cleaning up, to show that we live here and we love here.

Big Spring Clean logo

The charity aims to build a national movement for change through the civic pride campaign, Live Here Love Here. Live Here Love Here draws together Government, local authorities, Tourism Northern Ireland, community groups and individual volunteers. Together, they are forming an unstoppable force for change on litter by cleaning grot spots, by sprucing up overgrown spaces and by changing attitudes to make littering unacceptable.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful's BIG Spring Clean brings a focus on litter during the month of April, enabling businesses, schools, community groups and individuals to unite in common cause to clean up and to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

In 2014 The BIG Spring Clean:

  • Saw a staggering 105,819 people lift litter – more than double the amount of volunteers from the previous year.
  • Over 127 tonnes of waste was removed from our neighbourhoods, beaches and countryside.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “We look forward to another exciting BIG Spring Clean, we can all get out and do our bit to show that we live here and we love here. We’re very proud of the hard work all of the volunteers put in and it is truly excellent to see that local environmental quality is being improved with the support of schools, volunteers, sports groups and local businesses within the community.”

Dr Humphreys added: “We live in a great country, with some fantastic communities and world class open spaces, but too often the carelessness of others means that litter plagues our environment. Our BIG Spring Clean is the opportunity for everyone in Northern Ireland to join the fightback against litter.

“We want to call on everyone who lives here and who loves here to join us. Let’s not pretend that we can ignore the scale of the litter problem we face. We can all play a part in cleaning up our treasured local spaces by taking part in a BIG Spring Clean.”

You can register your BIG Spring Clean online at www.liveherelovehere.org and when you register your event online we will send you out a FREE clean up kit to help with your clean up.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Appeal with BBC Northern Ireland

Web Administrator   Thu 02 Apr 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful works to make Northern Ireland a cleaner and better place in which to live. We are involved in a range of environmental projects and activities. These include making people aware of the impact of litter on our countryside and beaches and tackling the problems associated with graffiti and dog fouling.

In support of our work, BBC Northern Ireland recently aired an appeal on our behalf. View clips available on the BBC website, where you can make a donation to support our important work.

If you would prefer to donate your time and experience, why not get involved with volunteering? Our new campaign Live Here Love Here seeks to help people make the place they live into a place that they love. We aim to do this by supporting volunteer efforts to clean up and improve shared spaces, and built pride within the community.

Visit the Live Here Love Here website for more details.

DOE Budget Cuts

Web Administrator   Wed 01 Apr 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s statement on funding

The news that Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s funding from the Department of the Environment has been cut by 30% is disappointing for the organisation and for the sector in Northern Ireland.

We recognise that we are only one of a large number of environmental groups facing huge cuts to our budgets.

The cuts experienced by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will certainly have an impact on our ability to deliver our vision of making Northern Ireland a cleaner and more pleasant place in which to live. Through the cuts, we have lost and will be losing a number of posts across the organisation. However, our commitment to delivering on our projects and programmes is unwavering and we will be continuing with the great work which underpins Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is working with other NGOs, the Environment Committee, NIEA and others to ensure the Minister and his officials fully understand the impact these cuts will have on the ability of the NGO sector to deliver a multitude of government and international obligations, and ultimately on the state of the NI environment.

From Laptops to Shopping Trollies; Litter was the catch of the day on Enniskillen’s Lakes

Web Administrator   Wed 09 Jul 2014   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

A little sunshine was an added bonus for the team of litter picking volunteers who came together to spruce up Enniskillen’s Lakeside; as part of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Clean Coast Week in association with Coca-Cola HBC NI.

On Wednesday the 2nd July local residents joined forces with volunteers from Coca-Cola HBC NI, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Fermanagh District Council and McDonald’s to take part in a clean up of Enniskillen’s Lakelands. The group met at Stuarts Car Park cleaning the pathway, jetties and long grass area, before cleaning their way through the town to The Brook Play Area along the River Erne. During the clean up the land based team of volunteers found two wire clothes horses, plastic bottles, take away packaging, picnic debris, a dead mouse and a large piece of plastic sheeting. However, it was the water based team from Fermanagh District Council who hauled out 2 shopping trollies, a traffic cone and a waterlogged laptop!

The Clean Coast activities continued in the afternoon with the Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, Cllr Bert Johnston, joining young people from Devenish Partnership Forum to take part in a clean up of the Loughview Drive area.

Overall the volunteers removed 20 bags of litter from the lakeside areas leaving them looking great for locals and tourists to enjoy.

Nicola Murray, Community Development Officer from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “It is inspiring to see volunteers work together to spruce up their areas; thank you to all of the volunteers who got involved and collected over 20 bags of litter from Enniskillen’s beautiful lakesides. It truly shows the PRIDE that local people have in the areas that they love. We hope that through the positive action of the Coast Care Campaign we can continue to work together to rid our coast and inland waterway’s of litter!”

Councillor Bert Johnston, Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, said: “It is great to see local people taking pride in the lough that surrounds their community. Fermanagh District Council welcomes the Clean Coast initiative and we hope to keep our loughs and lakes clean for locals and tourists alike.”

If you would like to make a difference in your area whether it be a coastal or an inland waterway then you can get involved by getting in touch with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful by ringing 02890 736 920 or emailing nicola.murray@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful will be able to support your clean ups with equipment and other means of assistance and you may even be nominated for a prestigious award when the summer is over!

March Eco-Home Bulletin

Web Administrator   Tue 01 Apr 2014   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Find out the latest news from the Eco-Home Student and the Eco-Home Community projects in Belfast. Also in this Eco-Home March bulletin you'll find some super, saving ideas.