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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.