Blue Flag: Six sparkling beach and boating gems in Mid and East Antrim
Mid and East Antrim Borough’s coastal gems have not only been glittering in the sunshine, but basking in the glory after netting six seaside awards.
Carrickfergus, Glenarm and Portglenone Marinas have achieved Blue Flag status.
Beach and marina operators receiving a Blue Flag are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the coastal environment, excellent water quality, water safety, and providing access for all, along with providing engaging educational activities on-site.
Meanwhile, Ballygally and Carnlough beaches and Brown’s Bay,Islandmagee, have won the Seaside Award. This means they’ve ticked the boxes required to national standards for beaches across the UK.
Many award-winning beaches and marinas provide information points to showcase the best of Northern Ireland’s wildlife and provide visitors with information on how they can enjoy these natural wonders without disturbing or damaging them.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnson, said: “It is fantastic that so many of our beautiful seaside locations have been recognised in this year’s Beach and Marina Awards. It is a fitting tribute to the work of both the council employees and the many groups of volunteers who together strive to keep our coastline clean, tidy and welcoming for visitors.
“This summer we hope many people will be able to visit the area and take the opportunity to exploring our beaches and beauty spots. However I would make the plea to everyone to do so responsibly and, critically, in line with PHA guidelines.
“We want our beaches to be safe and will do all we can as a council to deliver on this but everyone has to take responsibility for their own actions as we continue through the pandemic. I would ask that everyone respects social distancing and takes all litter home with them.”
A total of 26 beaches and marinas have achieved standards of excellence at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful annual Beach and Marina Awards.
The focus of this year’s event is to celebrate the array of blue spaces and raise awareness of the benefits a healthy marine environment and the positive connection between the outdoors and physical and mental health.
Internationally recognised, the Beach and Marina Awards are also an opportunity to celebrate those key workers who maintain beaches and marinas to such high standards.
The Blue Flag will be flown at eight of Northern Ireland’s beaches and six marinas during the 2021 season. The award is certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and has 49 participating countries globally.
The Seaside Award and Green Coast Awards programme ensures visitors of a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed beach with the facilities provided being appropriate for the location of the beach. One beach has received the Green Coast Award and 11 beaches have received the Seaside Award in 2021.
The Blue Flag and Seaside Awards may only be flown if all the criteria are successfully met at time of application and also maintained throughout the entirety of the bathing season.
Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “The past year has restricted our ability to travel and meet people. Yet, we are fortunate to have such great local blue spaces right on our doorstep. All of us can be rightly proud of this beautiful place we call home.
“Behind every one of these special places are dedicated key workers whose effort all year round keeps these blue spaces in such excellent condition.
“These awards are a small way of saying thank you and recognising that we have so much to be proud of in our community.”
Information and guidance on how to enjoy a safe and healthy visit to sites or outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/covid-19-gradual-reopening-outdoor-recreation-sites
Information on the award-winning blue spaces can be found at www.beachni.com and www.liveherelovehere.app
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