Nine Clare beaches have been awarded the prestigious International Blue Flag by An Taisce.
Whitestrand Miltown Malbay, Ballycuggernan, Whitestrand Doonbeg, Mountshannon, Cappa, Fanore, Spanish Point, Kilkee and Lahinch were today (Thursday) announced as recipients of the Blue Flag.
The Blue Flag is a prestigious environmental eco-label awarded to over 4000 beaches and marinas in 49 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. The award, which is operated in Ireland by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) – award represents high standards in water quality, environmental information and education, environmental management and safety, services and facilities.
Green Coast Awards were also awarded to the beaches at Bishops Quarter (Ballyvaughan) and Seafield (Quilty). The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty and is targeted at beaches that may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status. Bishops Quarter and Seafield were awarded by the Irish Green Coast Award Jury following beach inspections carried out in 2015, bathing water quality results and the beach management plans submitted by Clare County Council to An Taisce.
The Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards were accepted on behalf of Clare County Council by Cllr. James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, and Claire McGrath, Clare Water Safety Development Officer, at a ceremony held on The Velvet Strand, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin.
Speaking following today’s award ceremony, Councillor James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council expressed his delight that Clare had retained its nine Blue Flags, a record number achieved for the first time in 2015.
Cllr. Breen stated, “Clare has a long history of quality beaches and bathing tradition as evidenced by a recent EPA report showing that Clare achieved excellent status water quality on all its Bathing Waters in 2015.”
“Tourism is extremely important to Clare and it is important that our beaches are kept clean and litter-free. Our two Green Coast Beaches and seven of our Blue Flag Beaches are situated along the Wild Atlantic Way, a fantastic and successful tourism initiative, so it is incumbent on us all to ensure we keep our beaches clean and litter-free,” said the Cathaoirleach.
Gerard Dollard, interim Chief Executive, Clare County Council, welcomed An Taisce’s announcement, adding: “The Blue Flag award is a highly respected and recognised eco-label working to bring together the tourism and environmental sectors at local, regional and national levels. Clare’s strong performance in this scheme and the Green Coast Awards reflects the number of quality beaches that are available to people living in Clare and those visiting the County.”
Anne Haugh, Director of Services, Clare County Council, commented, “Clare County Council recognises the importance of our beaches as a place of recreation and enjoyment for locals and visitors alike. The Council invests considerable monies on an annual basis in maintaining and improving facilities at our beaches and I look forward to the continuation of the good working relationship with communities and the wider public to ensure the high environmental standards that have been achieved are maintained.”
“I particularly am happy to see White Strand Miltown Malbay retain its Blue Flag status which is a further boost to the area in light of last year’s opening by President Michael D Higgins of the Life Saving Training Centre. It is also notable that this year is the 80th anniversary of the Irish Lifeguard service, which began in Co Clare in 1936,” she added.