David McCann Wed 24 May 2017
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.
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Notes to editors
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
1. Cranfield West Beach
2. Murlough Beach
3. Tyrella Beach
Green Coast Award
4. Minerstown Beach
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
5. Benone Beach
6. Downhill Beach
7. West Strand
8. Whiterocks Beach
9. Ballycastle Marina
10. Ballycastle Beach
11. Castlerock Beach
12. Portrush East Strand
13. Waterfoot Beach
North Down and Ards Borough Council
14. Ballywalter Beach
15. Groomsport Beach
16. Millisle Beach
Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)
17. Crawfordsburn Beach
Green Coast Award
18. Helen’s Bay Beach
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
19. Ballygally Beach
20. Brown’s Bay
21. Carnlough Beach
Mid Ulster District Council
22. Ballyronin Marina
23. Portstewart Strand
24. Portstewart Strand
Contact the office on 028 9073 6920 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.