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Today Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful launches its manifesto for the upcoming local government elections. The manifesto outlines specific proposals to help each council make improves in their local area over the next four years. This year we have put an emphasis on environmental education, community engagement and improving environmental standards.

Speaking about the launch of the manifesto, our Chief Executive Ian Humphreys said;

“Our aim is to continue changing behaviours across Northern Ireland. We have always worked incredibly well with councils in tackling key issues such as littering, dog fouling and public attitudes towards our environment. There has been a lot of progress since 2014, but we still have some distance to go. We need to go further and at a faster rate than we have in the past. The proposals our organisation launches today are another important stepping stone towards the better society that we want to build.”

He added;

“I am asking every candidate standing for election, to back our five positive policies for the next term of office. If each council can implement these five key asks then we will be able to achieve some important environmental improvements by 2023. At this stage for our climate, change simply cannot wait”

If you would like more information please contact, Ian Humphreys, Tel 90736920, Email; ian.humphreys@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

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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.


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.


Allstate NI Belfast

10 Mays Meadow,


N. Ireland


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.


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