The International Blue Flag has been awarded to nine Clare beaches, including Whitestrand, Miltown Malbay, Ballycuggernan, Whitestrand Doonbeg, Mountshannon, Cappa, Fanore, Spanish Point, Kilkee and Lahinch.
Green Coast Awards were also awarded to the beaches at Bishops Quarter (Ballyvaughan) and Seafield (Quilty)
The 2016 Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards were accepted on behalf of Clare County Council by Cathaoirleach James Breen and Claire McGrath, Clare Water Safety Development Office,at a ceremony in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin.
The Blue Flag is a prestigious environmental eco-label awarded to over 4,000 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), represents high standards in water quality, environmental information and education, environmental management and safety, services and facilities.
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.
Councillor James Breen, expressed his delight that Clare had retained its nine Blue Flags, a record number achieved for the first time in 2015.
He added, “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.”
Gerard Dollard, interim Chief Executive, Clare County Council, welcomed An Taisce’s announcement.”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,” he said.