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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Blue Flag beach record for Wales
Aberdyfi beach
Aberdyfi beach has been given a Blue Flag for the first time
More of Wales' beaches than ever have received the European Blue Flag status for cleanliness.

A total 43 Welsh beaches and four marinas passed the test for bathing water quality and beach management.

Environment Minister Carwyn Jones said Wales' beaches could compete with the best in Europe.

Receiving the flag for the first time are Aberdyfi, Llangrannog, Whitmore Bay at Barry Island, and Deganwy quay marina.

The Blue Flag is awarded in 32 countries across the world.

This is fantastic news, it will definitely make a difference to us
Gareth Hughes, Aberdyfi

This year there are 47 awards in Wales and 77 in England, with Scotland and Northern Ireland announcing theirs next month.

In Wales the scheme is managed by Keep Wales Tidy on behalf of the International Foundation for Environmental Education.

Beaches are judged against 26 different criteria, including standard of bathing water, litter management and sustainable environmental management. Marinas have to meet 16 land-based criteria including reception facilities for hazardous waste and a commitment to safeguard their local environment.

"Wales' coastline is a major asset to our tourism industry and delivers considerable economic benefits," said Mr Jones.

NEW WELSH WINNERS
First-time beaches: Aberdyfi, Llangrannog, Whitmore Bay at Barry Island
Returning beaches: Aberystwyth South, Tresaith, Llandudno North and West
First-time marinas: Deganwy quay

"We should all be proud of the quality of our seaside.

"These 47 Blue Flags in Wales are a tribute to the many organisations and volunteers who help keep them clean," he said.

The Blue Flag status has been welcomed at Aberdyfi for the first time.

"This is fantastic news, it will definitely make a difference to us because people are far more environmentally aware and they take notice of things like the Blue Flag," said Gareth Hughes, who runs a business along the seafront.

Wynne Williams of Keep Wales Tidy said both Welsh Water and local authorities across Wales had demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of the coastline.

"We are definitely seeing the fruit of all the investment that has gone into the environment," said Mr Williams.

"The Blue Flag award is taken seriously and people are anxious to point out that their beach has reached the required standard.

"People demand that the beaches they use have reached this standard, and it's not just people who come here on holiday either.

"Local people want to know that their local beach is of a high standard, like I do of Dinas Dinlle, the beach near where I live," he added.




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