Ballyronan Marina on Lough Neagh has once again received a coveted Blue Flag award for outstanding facilities and environmental management. The marina, which has held the award for a number of years, is one of only a handful on the Island of Ireland to receive the award. The Blue Flag designation is more widely known as beach award, and 8 beaches in Northern Ireland received the flags at an event in Portstewart on the 20th May
Receiving the award on behalf of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Christine McFlynn, Chair of the Environment Committee, said:
“I am delighted that Ballyronan Marina has once again attained a Blue Flag.
“This accreditation is a very visible sign to all our visitors that Ballyronan not only offers stunning scenery and access to the beautiful waters of Lough Neagh, but also excellence in the standard of facilities on the shore too”.
Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the environmental charity which administers the awards locally, said
“A Blue flag means excellence; that we can proudly say nearly half of the designated bathing waters and two marinas in Northern Ireland are world class is quite an achievement. We have a fantastic coastal offering for everyone who lives here and loves here as well as our growing numbers of visitors.”
A Blue Flag marina provides the highest standard of facilities for visitors, and has strong environmental credentials to protect the local and wider environment. The awards are renewed annually and in 2014 Ballyronan was given the seal of approval by an international inspection team.
Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan, said:
“These Blue Flag and Seaside Awards show the dedication that coastal councils and the National Trust contribute to providing first class, safe and enjoyable beaches. The coast of Northern Ireland is an amazing place to visit, and these Awards demonstrate how much work has gone into promoting our excellent beaches.
“The Good Beach Summits, which we initiated in DOE, have helped to improve standards at beaches around our coast. Fantastic progress has been made and I trust that next year even more beaches and marinas will apply for these awards.”
Colin Neill, Tourism NI Board member said,
“Northern Ireland’s stunning beaches are amongst our greatest tourism assets, and keeping them clean and safe is of the utmost importance to us. By driving standards and safeguarding our environment, these awards play a vital role in helping to showcase the natural beauty of our coastline, and in improving the overall visitor experience of incoming tourists. I am delighted that this year Northern Ireland boasts an impressive number of award winning beaches, offering an excellent choice of clean and safe places for our visitors to enjoy this summer.”
With weeks of fine weather in April and May sparking thoughts of a ‘barbeque summer’, beaches around Northern Ireland are gearing up for an influx of visitors. To help everyone find their ideal award winning beach or marina Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Tourism NI have launched a visitor map which lists the facilities offered at each beach and also includes suggestions for activities or attractions to make for a memorable day out. The guide will be available online, via all Tourist Information Centres and at Award beaches.