Crawfordsburn has this year joined Millisle beach in setting the standard for local beaches with Seaside Awards for exemplary environmental management and good water quality.
However, this year’s awards saw all the prestigious international Blue Flag awards go to the north coast and south Down while Ballyholme beach again failed to meet even the basic standards required by this year’s Good Beach Guide which was published last week.
Green Party leader Steven Agnew called on Northern Ireland Water to launch an “urgent investigation” into why the water at Ballyholme is continually falling below standard, for the sake of residents and tourists.
“The Northern Ireland Environment Agency must work more closely with NI Water and local authorities to investigate the pollution – especially sewage.
“The excuse of heavy rain causing pollution, which has been used for at least the last three years, is really starting wear thin and we now need decisive action.
“New environment Minister Alex Attwood needs to take this issue seriously and act now to make sure the water quality at Ballyholme improves.
Tidy Northern Ireland, in association with Northern Ireland Tourist Board, announced that seven beaches and one marina would fly the Blue Flag with 10 beaches flying the Seaside Award this year.
Ian Humphreys, Tidy Northern Ireland chief executive said: “All Blue Flag and Seaside award beaches not only have water quality that meets the EU bathing water standards but also, through the investment and hard work of beach operators, meet a wide range of other criteria covering safety, services, information and education, ensuring a great day out for visitors and local people alike.”
Environment Minister Alex Attwood, said the awards were encouraging news for beach users and seaside towns.
“Good water quality and the safety of beaches are key to our economy and tourism and we must strive to achieve high quality standards for the enjoyment of Northern Ireland's entire world famous coastline.
“However, not all of our beaches reach the required standard for water quality and this needs to be addressed.”
He said he would be holding a ‘Good Beach Summit’ involving people inside and outside government to raise the issues relating to water quality problems.
The 2011 award winning beaches are: Magilligan, Benone, Downhill,Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella and Ballyronan Marina.
Seaside Awards went to Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Carnlough,Ballygally, Brown's Bay, Crawfordsburn, Millisle,Cranfield West, Murlough and Tyrella.