Although Blue Flag numbers for beaches dip slightly from last year's record number of 45, the amount of marinas has rocketed from 6 in 1998 to 26 in 1999. The UK now boasts more Blue Flag Marinas than Portugal (5), Greece (9) and Turkey (11) added together.
Six beaches have been awarded Blue Flags for the first time in the history of the awards, namely: Millisle Lagoon in County Down, Amroth and Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, Ramsgate Sands in Kent, New Quay Traeth yr Harbwr in Ceredigion and Porth Dafarch in Anglesey.
Oddicombe beach in Torbay has the remarkable achievement of winning a Blue Flag in every year of the campaign so far (13), closely followed by Poole in Dorset who have had 12 Blue Flags.
The European Blue Flag is awarded in 21 countries for resort beaches and marinas with high standards of environmental management. Beaches must also comply with the Guideline coliform and faecal streptococci parameters of the EC Bathing Water Directive EEC/76/160.
Delighted with the high standards achieved on UK beaches and marinas, Graham Ashworth, director general of Tidy Britain Group said:
'The very best beaches in the UK have been rewarded for their excellent water quality and beach management standards. As the Blue Flag is the most prestigious eco-label in Europe, its award to UK beaches is very high praise indeed.
'It is also exciting to see so many UK marinas taking up the challenge that meeting the strict Blue Flag criteria presents.
'However, as well as recognizing the high achievements of these award winners, Tidy Britain Group is committed to developing management systems to raise the standards of all beaches and marinas.'
- Tidy Britain Group is an independent national charity working for the improvement of local environments. TBG aims to encourage individual, corporate and community responsibility for care of the environment through a variety of campaigns and programmes, such as National Spring Clean, Britain in Bloom and People and Places.
- Blue Flag beach management criteria include beach cleanliness, dog control, wheelchair access, provision of facilities, provision of life saving equipment etc.
- All Blue Flag beaches must display the season's up-to-date bathing water quality results. For extra information on bathing water quality in England and Wales the public can also now visit the Environment Agency's website http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk. Launched last week the new site has up-to-date information on bathing water quality in England and Wales as well as the last 10 year's records.
- Tidy Britain Group co-ordinates the Blue Flag in the UK on behalf of FEEE, the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe, a network of 21 national non-profit a non-governmental organisations promoting education for sustainable development.
* A list of the winners is available from LGCnet. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.