Beaches in Co Donegal and Co Mayo lose blue flag status
Eighty beaches and eight marinas receive accolade in 2019, two fewer than 2018
Bundoran Beach, Co Donegal, lost its blu flag. Photograph: Holger Leue/Tourism Ireland
Blue flag status is awarded to beaches and marinas that meet and maintain a number of stringent environmental, educational, safety and access-related criteria.
In total, 80 Irish beaches and eight marinas have received the accolade this year, a decrease of two flags on 2018.
An Taisce is responsible for the operation of the blue flag programme in Ireland on behalf of the Foundation of Environment Education (FEE).
Bundoran Beach, Bertra Strand and Golden Strand failed to meet the required water quality standard. All three were classified as achieving good water quality, however “excellent” water quality is required to achieve blue flag status.
The county with the most blue flags is Kerry, with 13 beaches and one marina receiving the award.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Co Clare, Sophie Bachet Granados, International Blue Flag director, said the blue flag has operated in Ireland for more than 30 years.
“At the Foundation for Environmental Education we have been impressed by the standard of the sites from Ireland over this period,” she said.
“The blue flag is a symbol of excellence in environmental education, management, water quality, safety and services.”
The blue flag programme, which operates in 49 countries, aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats around the world.
Separately, 62 beaches received the Green Coast Award for 2019, the highest number awarded to date. The award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty.
Seapoint in Termonfeckin, Co Louth, and Rinroe, Co Mayo, are both first-time recipients of the award. Cadogan’s Strand in Co Cork regained a Green Coast Award for the first time in eight years. Silverstrand in Louisburgh, Co Mayo, did not retain its Green Coast Award for 2019.
Ian Diamond, coastal awards manager for An Taisce noted the involvement of more than 800 Clean Coasts groups, comprising thousands of volunteers throughout the island.
“These awards are not easily achieved and represent a real effort by local authorities in cooperation with Clean Coasts groups to reach the highest standards in water quality and environmentally sensitive beach management,” he said.
“An Taisce would like to acknowledge in particular the dedication of Clean Coasts groups around the coast who give up their time to care for their local beaches throughout the year.”
The Green Coast Awards are operated by An Taisce’s environmental education unit with the support of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.