Castlerock beach honoured for first time at awards Blue Flag and Seaside Awards

ENVIRONMENT Minister Edwin Poots presented Northern Ireland's Blue Flag and Seaside awards to eight beaches and one marina on Wednesday.

The Blue Flag was awarded to Magilligan Benone for the twentieth successive year and Castlerock for the first time.

The Seaside Awards were presented to eight beaches, with four, Ballygally, Carnlough, Brown’s Bay and Millisle receiving exemplary awards.

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Commenting at the awards Minister Poots said: "Beach awards are the product of significant investment of resources by beach managers and all those involved are to be congratulated. This investment yields its own rewards for the tourism industry and the environment alike.

"In spite of a wet summer last year, the number of bathing waters of excellent water quality has remained fairly consistent. I feel the improvement of water quality at Castlerock is due in no small part to the significant investment in sewerage and infrastructure at the North Coast Works.”

The successful beaches for 2010 are: Magilligan-Benone; Magilligan-Downhill; Castlerock, Portstewart Strand; Portrush West, Whiterocks; Tyrella Beach; and Cranfield West.

In Northern Ireland eight Seaside Awards are being made including: Portstewart Strand (Resort); Cranfield Bay (Resort); Murlough (Resort); and Tyrella (Resort).

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Councillor David Harding said: “I would like to commend all those involved behind the scenes who have ensured that Whiterocks beach in Portrush, my neighbouring ward has once again received a prestigious Blue Flag award. As someone who uses the beach regularly I am particularly delighted that its beauty and cleanliness has been acknowledged.”

East Londonderry MLA David McClarty added: “The award of Blue Flag status to many beaches in the East Londonderry area is great news for all those who care about the beautiful natural environment which we are blessed with in this part of the world and who realise its vital importance to our tourist industry.”

However Sinn Fin MLA Billy Leonard has said that the magnificent achievement of six north coast beaches being awarded Blue Flag status is always going to be blighted by the British Army closing a major part of the beach at Magilligan and playing their ‘war games’.

“The British Army still engage in coastal colonialism by taking part of our beautiful environment, making life difficult for people wanting to fish, pursue leisure activities or simply doing the very natural family thing of spending time on the beach.”