Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's shores pass EU clean water tests

By Linda Stewart

Northern Ireland's beaches offer some of the best bathing water quality in Europe, according to Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

His comments come after 16 of 23 bathing beaches were classed as 'Excellent' under the EU Bathing Water Directive and another six as 'Good', meeting the mandatory standard.

The only one to fail was Carnlough beach, which yielded a series of poor samples in an unusually wet August that sparked a spate of floods and landslides in the Glens of Antrim.

Meanwhile Newcastle beach, which struggled to meet the bathing water standards in recent years, has bounced back, recording an 'Excellent' status for the second year in a row.

"In spite of some really atrocious weather in August this year, which we know often affects our water quality, we still have some of the best bathing water quality in Europe," Mr Durkan said.

"We have some good success stories behind the statistics. Newcastle bathing water in particular withstood all of the challenges that our weather has thrown at us during August.

"Newcastle bathing water quality is 'Excellent' for the second year in a row since the new sewage works went live. This is a great example of the benefits that can be achieved by Government departments working together.

"It's disappointing, though, to see that Carnlough failed this year. Some of the poor sample results at Carnlough were obtained during August when we saw 44% more rainfall than normal, resulting in flooding and landslips.

"It emphasises the need to avoid complacency and keep working hard to keep our beaches at a high standard."

In Northern Ireland 23 sites are formally identified under the 1976 EC Bathing Waters Directive and a monitoring programme has been in place since 1988.

The waters are sampled on 20 occasions during the summer months by DoE's marine division for bacterial contamination and other indicators of pollution. Results are circulated weekly to the coastal councils and published both locally and on the NIEA website.

Results can also be accessed through http://www.beachni.com where much more information about our beaches and about beach safety is also available.

In early August thunderstorms swept across Northern Ireland, causing a series of landslides in the Glens of Antrim.

One incident saw the Antrim Coast Road closed between Waterfoot and Carnlough.

Meanwhile, shocking footage recorded by farmer Dermot McAleese showed a huge mudslide carrying tonnes of mud and rocks across the Altarichard Road between Cushendall and Magherahoney.

Damage was caused to part of the Slieveanorra Mountain near Armoy in Co Antrim when land gave way.

The verdict

RATED EXCELLENT

Benone

Downhill

Castlerock

Portstewart

Portrush West

Portrush Whiterocks

Portballintrae

Ballygally

Brown's Bay

Helen's Bay

Crawfordsburn

Groomsport

Tyrella

Murlough, Dundrum

Newcastle

Cranfield

RATED GOOD

Portrush East

Ballycastle

Waterfoot

Ballyholme

Millisle

Ballywalter

RATED POOR

Carnlough

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