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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Record number of clean beaches
Cleethorpes beach
Cleethorpes beach gets its first blue flag
A record number of UK beaches have been awarded Blue Flags for cleanliness.

The European award for well-managed beaches has been given to 105 beaches this year - almost twice as many as in 2000.

Among the new entries for 2003 are Cleethorpes, Colwyn Bay, Keynes Country Park and St Ives Porthminster.

The South West of England has 22 clean beaches and the South East 15, with eight first time winners.

Wales leads the way by region, with 33 beaches getting flags for clean water, management and visitor facilities.

Wales: 33
Scotland: 4
N Ireland: 5
South West:22
South East: 15
North West: 0

Scotland has four - Aberdour, Burntisland, Elie and St Andrews - one down from last year, with Nairn Central missing out.

Northern Ireland has five - two down from last year. Its lack of progress was blamed on a lack of investment in cleaning up the water.

The North West of England did not fare very well either, with no awards in the region which covers popular tourist beaches such as Blackpool and Morecambe.

Kiss-me-quick image

The Blue Flags are awarded by Encams, an environmental campaigns group which also organises Keep Britain Tidy.

Sue Nelson, director of Encams, told the BBC the increase was "something to celebrate" - and proof that the image of British beaches should be changing.

Margate beach
Margate is also a flag winner
"There's still a bit of persistence of the kiss-me-quick hats and the chips and the dog poo on the beach, and actually in reality that's changed quite a lot... there are many beautiful, beautiful beaches."

The 105 figure is up 22 on last year's record of 83 and is almost double the figure achieved in 2000.

Water Minister Elliot Morley said he was "delighted" by the number of beaches being awarded, and put it down to national efforts to clean coastal waters.

"The 600m investment programme in bathing water quality improvements across England and Wales to 2005 has resulted in the continued improvement of our bathing water quality in recent years," he said.

Lifeguards and litter

"It is all the more pleasing that these efforts are being recognised by this prestigious international award scheme."

The Blue Flag has become the definitive international measure of beaches since it began back in 1987 - when only 14 beaches won the award.

It measures everything from accessibility for disabled visitors through to the number of bins provided, lifeguards and litter left on the beach.

Water must be clean enough to have achieved the highest standard defined by European Law.

Award winners can fly a Blue Flag during the bathing season.

Land-locked beaches win blue flag
05 Jun 03  |  Gloucestershire
Region wins clean beach awards
05 Jun 03  |  North Yorkshire
UK beach quality 'best ever'
01 May 03  |  Science/Nature

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