Newry, Mourne and Down District Council landed three Blue Flag Awards at a recent ceremony celebrating excellent management of local coasts and waterways.
Cranfield Bay, Murlough Beach and Tyrella Beach achieved recognition at the annual Beach and Marina Awards for the Council’s work in meeting stringent international standards around water quality, education, safety and accessibility.
Members of the council attended a presentation at the Ballygally Castle Hotel on 18 May to receive their accolades, which are managed in Northern Ireland by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Rice said, “It is brilliant news that three of the district’s beaches have again won the world-renowned Blue Flag Award. This is testament to the hard work of both Council employees and the many groups of volunteers who together strive to keep our coastline clean, tidy and welcoming for visitors.
“I also invite all of our residents to experience the natural beauty of our wonderful beaches. When visiting please protect and preserve these areas by following the ‘Leave no Trace’ principles – plan appropriately, respect nature and wildlife, and take all litter home.”
Rachel Vaughan, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Local Environmental Quality Manager commented, “Our aquatic areas are vital resources for supporting marine life, human mental and physical wellbeing and a source of great pride for many. We thank and congratulate the team at Newry, Mourne and Down who put in the hard work and dedication to ensure that they remain of a world-class calibre.”
Newry, Mourne and Down earned their prestigious prize after successfully convincing a jury panel that their application demonstrated the required quality thresholds. Awards apply from June to the end of September, to coincide with the beach season, and need renewed each year.
Members of the public are invited to enjoy the award-winning amenities at each site, which are designated bathing waters that have the highest water-quality standards and excellent facilities, making them ideal coastal destinations.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA, who delivered a speech at the presentation said, “I am delighted that Northern Ireland again has had such success in the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards. It is inspiring to see so many of our beaches and marinas achieving the exceptionally high standards demanded by these awards. It is a wonderful achievement, especially given the difficulties in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the many challenges that has presented. I am grateful for the cooperation and collaborative working through the Better Beaches Forum, which is led by my Department and involves Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Northern Ireland Water, councils and stakeholders, in achieving this number of awards.”
The Minister continued, “These awards are excellent news for our holidaymakers and bathers who can confidently enjoy our beaches and marinas, and avail of the award winning facilities that are on offer, and I remain committed to ensuring that my Department continues to play a key role in running the annual programme for water quality testing at our world class beaches.”
The Blue Flag Award is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a worldwide environmental organisation that also oversees the Eco-Schools, Learning About Forests and Young Reporters for the Environment programmes.
FEE celebrates 35 years of the Blue Flag Award in 2022, and has so far issued 4,831 Blue Flags in 50 countries this year.