A Record Equalling 90 Blue Flags and 60 Green Coast Awards for 2020
An Taisce has announced the International Blue Flag and Green Coast Award recipients for 2020. The awards were announced by Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards manager with An Taisce’s Education Unit, the national operator of Blue Flag and Green Coast Award programmes in the Republic of Ireland.
The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised eco-labels. The Blue Flag originated in France in 1985 when French coastal Local Authorities were awarded with the Blue Flag for compliance with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria. It was launched as an International programme as part of the “European Year of the Environment in 1987. In 1988, the first year sites were awarded outside of France, 19 beaches and 2 marinas received the Blue Flag in Ireland. This year Ireland continues to punch above its weight with a record equalling 90 sites awarded, up 2 on last year’s total.
The programme aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and inland bathing waters around the world. The 80 Irish beaches and 10 marinas that have achieved this accolade must adhere to specific criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety and site management.
77 of the 80 beaches and all 8 marinas awarded last year have retained Blue Flag status for 2020. Bertra in Mayo and Bundoran in Donegal have regained Blue Flag status having lost it in 2019 while Youghal Claycastle has been awarded for the first time since 2011. The improvement in bathing water quality rating at each of these beaches to excellent status, the highest available under the Bathing Water Quality Regulations was a contributed to them being awarded this year. In addition to the 8 marinas awarded in 2019 Kilrush Marina and Portmagee Seasonal Pontoons have been awarded this year.
An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland is responsible for the operation of the Blue Flag programme in Ireland on behalf of the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE). 49 Countries operate the Blue Flag programme globally and more than 4400 sites and eco-tourism boats will be awarded in 45 countries this year.
In announcing the awards from home via Facebook Live Mr. Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education unit concluded:
“Visits to the beach this summer will not be the same, while we go to the beach to relax and unwind we still have to be mindful of the need to social distance and bringing hand sanitizer in addition to sunscreen with us will take some getting use to. We must also bear in mind the additional pressure being put on local authorities to manage our beaches in the most difficult of circumstances. With unprecedented numbers forced to stay at home for the past few months from work and school we must be cognisant of the challenges facing those managing our beaches. In the same manner as we have all worked together against Covid-19 we must all exercise personal responsibility to enjoy our beaches in a safe and sustainable way. I am delighted to announce today the recipients of 90 Blue Flags and 60 Green Coast Awards for 2020. I would like to congratulate the Local Authorities, community groups and marina managers on their success in achieving Blue Flag or Green Coast Award status. I would also like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer.”
60 Beaches receive the Green Coast Award for the 2020 Bathing Season
The Green Coast Awards were presented back in 2003 to four beaches in County Wexford, it was rolled out nationally in 2008 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. The award recognises beaches for
their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty.
60 beaches in Ireland were awarded the Green Coast Award for 2020.
There are 2 first time recipients of the Green Coast Award in 2020: Baginbun in County Wexford and Carrigaholt in County Clare. Mornington in County Meath has regained Green Coast Award status having last held the award in 2017.
An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Clean Coasts groups of which there are now over 600 comprised of thousands of volunteers throughout the island. Mr. Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards Manager for An Taisce paid tribute to these groups stating that:
“Clean Coasts groups contribute significantly to the protection of Ireland’s coastal environment, over the past year these groups removed over 750 tonnes of litter from our coastline”.