Mr John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage
and Local Government, has presented the 2008 Blue Flag and
Green Coast Awards.
Blue Flag is an international award for beach excellence.
It is presented to beaches which have excellent water quality,
which provide a range of services and which fulfil other specified
criteria - including environmental management and education.
Green Coast Award applies generally to beaches which
also have excellent water quality - but, which may be less
developed or more rural in nature. The full range of Blue
Flag-type facilities might not be appropriate at these beaches.
This is the first year in which these awards have been presented
together. Minister Gormley commented - “this is an important
development, which recognises the complementary role of each
award and demonstrates that a coordinated approach is being
taken in relation to beach management.”
This is also the first time that the awards ceremony has
included beaches in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. Minister
Gormley presented the awards together with Dr. Roy Ramsey,
the Director of Environmental Protection, of Northern Ireland’s
Environment and Heritage Service. Minister Gormley commented
that the joint presentations reflected - “the extensive and
important cross-border coordination of effort that takes place
in relation to a variety of environmental protection matters”.
This is the twentieth year in which the Blue Flag programme
has operated in Ireland. Blue Flags were awarded this year
to 78 bathing areas and 2 marinas. This is a decrease of 3
from the total of 83 awarded in 2007. The Minister said -
"it is disappointing for all when flags are lost, especially
as a large effort has been put into the Blue Flag programme
at all of these locations”. The losses were due to deterioration
in water quality in some areas, which resulted largely from
the heavy rainfall experienced last year.
The Green Coast award originated in a partnership between
five of the East Coast counties and our neighbours in Wales.
Following successful operation of the programme on the East
Coast, it is - from this year - being extended to embrace
the whole coastline of Ireland. This will be facilitated through
partnership between An Taisce, Tidy Northern Ireland and the
Environment and Heritage Service of Northern Ireland. Already,
there has been significant interest in the awards in the counties
which are new to the programme. A total of 33 awards are being
made for 2008. Tidy Northern Ireland will begin to roll-out
the programme in 2009.
Merit awards were also made to individual and group volunteers.
The Minister paid tribute to these volunteers - "who
make a tremendous contribution to protection of our environment”.
The Blue Flag scheme is operated by the Foundation for Environmental
Education (FEE) - a non-Governmental organisation. The criteria
for the award of Blue Flags relate to water quality, facilities
for visitors, beach management - including litter control,
environmental information and display facilities. FEE operates
through national bodies who are responsible for the administration
of the Blue Flag scheme in their countries.
The scheme in Ireland is administered by An Taisce. The administering
bodies inspect beaches and conduct an initial assessment of
applications for Flags, based on the previous year's bathing
water quality results and compliance with the other criteria
of the scheme. They are assisted in this task by a national
jury comprised of members with appropriate qualifications/expertise
in environmental, conservation, marine and consumer interest
areas. The recommendations from each national jury are subsequently
assessed by FEE’s International jury, which determines actual
Blue Flag awards.
To download the Blue Flag & Green Coast Awards
for 2008 - Click