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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Flying the blue flag on beaches
Umbrella on beach
The Blue flag award goes to eight NI beaches in 2005
Eight resorts in Northern Ireland have picked up prestigious Blue Flag awards for 2005.

Downhill is a newcomer on this year's list which also includes Benone, Portstewart, three of Portrush's strands, Cranfield West and Tyrella.

Ballycastle has slipped off the list from last year.

The Blue Flag is awarded to beaches which pass a strict water quality test of the maximum standard set down in European law.

Ian Cole, the director of Tidy Northern Ireland which organises the awards, said they should give councils renewed confidence in the coastlines.

Footprints

"Here in Northern Ireland, we have beaches that are just as clean and appealing as anything in the UK, yet we seem reluctant to sing their praises.

"If we want the profile - and the economic boom that goes with it - all of us must become ambassadors and encourage the world to come to our coastline and see it for themselves.

"As for the public, they too can play a big part by treating our resorts with respect, ensuring that when they visit the beach, the only thing they leave behind on the sand are their footprints."

As an honour, the winning beaches will be able to fly the blue flag from Friday.

Last month five beaches failed to meet the mandatory EC standard for water quality.

They were Castlerock; Carnlough; Ballygally; Ballyholme in Bangor and Ballyhalbert.

The Marine Society said it "wouldn't advise" swimming at these beaches as infections such as gastroenteritis were "more likely".

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where raw sewage from large towns is run directly into the sea.

However, the Water Service has said it plans to invest 420m over the next three years to improve waste water treatment and sewerage works.




SEE ALSO:
Five NI beaches fail sewage tests
27 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
NI's beaches 'have less litter'
22 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
NI beaches' blue flag 'record'
04 Jun 04 |  Northern Ireland


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