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Five council areas rewarded for excellent environmental management

The local winners of the international Blue Flag Award and the UK-wide Seaside Award have been revealed for 2023. 

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful announced that 18 beaches and marinas at home earned the prestigious Blue Flag Award distinction after reaching world-class standards in criteria that includes water quality, safety, accessibility, cleanliness and environmental education.

A further nine beaches received Seaside Awards, the UK’s mark of quality that ensures visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed coastal stretch. Seven Seaside Award sites returned excellent water-quality results, while two more rated as good, the second highest classification in this area.

The benchmarks for blue spaces were shared across councils, with Causeway Coast and Glens claiming 12 awards and Mid and East Antrim landing three Blue Flags and three Seaside Awards. 

There were also five flags for aquatic spots in Ards and North Down, and three wins for beaches in Newry, Mourne and Down. Ballyronan Marina in Mid Ulster retained its Blue Flag status for the 14th consecutive year.

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said:

"We are extremely pleased that 27 beaches and marinas have achieved either a Blue Flag Award or Seaside Award. Each flag is a symbol that these special places are managed to an excellent standard and an important trust signal to the public that they can expect a high-quality experience when they visit one of these award-winning sites.

"At a time when budgets are tight and difficult decisions are never far away, we want to thank councils and other organisations for continuing to invest in our beaches and marinas that are much loved and valued by tourists and people at home alike."

Owen Lyttle, DAERA’s Director of Marine and Fisheries said “We are delighted to see so many beaches and marinas awarded for their excellent environmental management. The assessment of water quality is a core component of these Awards and highlights that Northern Ireland continues to have some of the cleanest beaches and marinas in the world. We will keep working with all those who help to manage these valuable blue spaces to ensure that Northern Ireland continues to have beaches and marinas we can be proud of.”

Beach and marina operators and Mayors from across councils were invited to collect the awards at a presentation ceremony in The Arcadia, Portrush on 25 May. The occasion was organised by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, who manage the accreditations locally. 

The award-winning locations will now have their respective flags in place for the duration of the Northern Ireland bathing season, which runs from 01 June to 15 September.

To see the full list of Blue Flag Award and Seaside Award winners, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org


Notes for editors

1. Blue Flag Beach Award winners – Benone Beach, Castlerock Beach, Cranfield Bay, Downhill Beach, Murlough Beach, Portrush East Strand Beach, Portrush West Strand Beach, Tyrella Beach, Whiterocks Beach.

2. Blue Flag Marina Award winners – Blue Flag Award Marinas winners – Ballycastle Marina, Ballyronan Marina, Bangor Marina, Carrickfergus Marina, Coleraine Marina, Glenarm Marina, Portglenone Marina, Portrush Harbour and Marina, Rathlin Marina.

3. Seaside Award winners – Ballycastle Beach, Ballygally Beach, Ballywalter South Beach, Brown's Bay Beach, Carnlough Beach, Cloughey Beach, Groomsport Beach, Millisle Beach, Waterfoot Beach.

4. Northern Ireland’s bathing water quality is monitored by DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division during the bathing season. The bathing season runs from 01 June through to 15 September, during which time water quality is assessed on 20 different occasions at each location.

5. Bathing water is monitored at 26 sites in Northern Ireland, with results classified as excellent, good, sufficient or poor.

6. In 2023, 18 out of 26 bathing-water sites received either a Blue Flag Award or Seaside Award

7. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a world where people and nature thrive, by running environmental-education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Programmes include the national civic-pride campaign Live Here Love Here, Tackling Plastic NI, Tackling Textiles, Carbon Literacy training, and local environmental quality programmes, such as Eco-Schools NI, Blue Flag Award, Seaside Award, Green Flag Award, Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Marine Litter surveys. For more information, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

For further information about the Blue Flag Award and Seaside Award, please contact Claire Irwin at claire.irwin@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org