There were celebrations for lovers of the Fingal coastline as three beaches were awarded Blue Flag status for beach excellence with regard to water quality and criteria including facilities for visitors, beach management and environmental education.
Two beaches - Balcarrick Beach in Donabate and South Beach in Rush – were new recipients of the renowned blue flag this year, while Portmarnock was again rewarded as it retains the flag it has held for a number of years. Beachgoers at Balcarrick will also be elated as this gem of a beach was presented with a Green Coast Award to fly. Overall, some 90 beaches received Blue Flags around Ireland.
Green Coast awards aim to recognise beaches that have excellent water quality and appropriate management to ensure the protection of the natural environment. They have particular emphasis on community involvement and all beaches must be managed by the local authority in cooperation with local clean coast groups.
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to hear about the awarding of three blue flags to beaches in Fingal. We have two wonderful new additions this year, with Balcarrick in Donabate and South Beach in Rush being recognised, and it’s fantastic that Velvet Strand in Portmarnock has once again retained its status. It’s also significant that Balcarrick Beach has been awarded a Green Coast Award which recognises beaches of high environmental quality.
“So, for any of us who love the 88km of our picturesque coastline, those of us who like to walk on the beach or for anyone who likes to get in the sea, this is brilliant news. Well done to everyone in the council and our community for making this happen.”
Director of Operations at Fingal, Mary T Daly welcomed the announcement: “Increasing the number of Blue Flags is a recognition of the excellent work of the Council and local community groups in ensuring that our beaches are managed carefully to the highest standard. With Bathing Season set to begin from 1 June, more people are expected to take advantage of beaches all along the Fingal coastline, so having these accolades at three of our beaches is testament to what we can offer the local community and visitors alike”.
Under the international Blue Flag programme, local authorities around the world must also continue to meet specific criteria if they want to retain their beaches’ blue flag status. Among those guidelines is a rule relating to dogs or pets (other than assistance dogs) not being permitted on a Blue Flag beach. This is especially important in terms of maintaining an excellent water quality, with overwhelming evidence connecting bathing water contamination to dog poo. Analysis shows that just one dog foul left behind can result in contamination the size of a tennis court.