independent

Sunday 20 October 2019

Beaches lose out to stricter rules

Kathleen O' Brien walking her dogs.
Kathleen O' Brien walking her dogs.

Fintan Lambe

LAST year's wet summer and stricter water quality conditions led to the loss of one Blue Flag and two Green Coast Flags along the Wexford coastline.

LAST year's wet summer and stricter water quality conditions led to the loss of one Blue Flag and two Green Coast Flags along the Wexford coastline.

Morriscastle Beach has lost its coveted Blue Flag, because Wexford County Council didn't apply for it this year, knowing that it didn't meet the new conditions. In addition, two beaches (Ballymoney and Cullenstown) lost their Green Coast Flags.

Stricter new EU bathing water quality standards came into effect this year meaning 13 beaches nationwide didn't get their blue flags.

The Council said this week it carried out tests that showed Morriscastle wouldn't meet the new higher standards.

The Blue Flag is administered in Ireland by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

A spokesperson for Wexford County Council explained that both the Blue Flag and Green Coast awards set out a specific set of criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education and beach management.

This is the first year of the complete transition from the old 1976 EU Directive to the new 2006 EU Directive.

'The microbiological standards of the 2006 EU Directive are almost twice as strict as the 1976 Directive with the more stringent category of 'Excellent' water quality being applied. Beaches must now meet the 'Excellent' standard of water quality in order to be considered for the Blue Flag or Green Coast Award,' said a spokesperson for the Council.

'Bathing water quality can be temporarily impacted by weather events such as heavy rainfall, stormy sea conditions and below average sunshine levels,' he added. 'Nationally, 2012 was a remarkably wet summer and these poor weather conditions occurred regularly throughout the season.'

The Irish Blue Flag Jury met on February 18 last, and made recommendations to the International Jury based on the applications made by Wexford County Council for the Blue Flag 2013.

The International Jury subsequently met on April 19. The result of the meetings was that Rosslare Strand, Curracloe and Courtown were successful.

'Unfortunately Morriscastle Beach was not successful due to non compliance with the new, more stringent Bathing Water quality standard,' said the spokesperson. 'The Irish Green Coast Award Jury met on March 21 and were able to award Ballinesker, Cahore, Culleton's Gap and Old Bawn the Green Coast Award for 2013. Unfortunately, Ballymoney and Cullenstown beach were unsuccessful in their application due to non-compliance with the new, more stringent Bathing Water quality standard.'

He said that Wexford County Council will continue to carry out investigations and works to improve the quality of bathing waters in the county and although the beaches at Morriscastle, Ballymoney and Cullenstown have not received awards in 2013, the council will continue to maintain them at the Blue Flag and Green Coast standards.

Wexford People

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