Mayo lost two of its Blue Flag beaches - it was announced this week - after both Bertra and Golden Strand were not included in Mayo County Council's selection for beaches to be considered for the award.
According to An Taisce, which oversees the awarding of Blue Flag beaches: "Bertra is classified as achieving good water quality in 2018 based on the assessment of bacteriological results for the period 2015 to 2018. Excellent water quality classification is the standard required of beach applicants to achieve Blue Flag status. Mayo County Council did not apply for a Blue Flag for Bertra for 2019 for this reason."
Ten Mayo beaches though did maintain their Blue Flag status. They were: Carrowmore, Clare Island, Dooega, Elly Bay, Keel, Keem, Mullaghroe, Ross in Killala and Silverstrand in Dugort.
The awards not retained for 2019 - Bertra Beach, Murrisk; Golden Strand Beach, Achill Island, and former Green Coast Silver Strand Beach and Louisburgh - achieved Good Water Quality in 2018 based on the assessment of bacteriological results for the period 2015 to 2018. These narrowly missed the Excellent Water Quality Status, which is the standard, required to achieve the award. All three beaches exceed the standard for safe bathing waters and will be maintained as Blue Flag / Green Coast beaches for the upcoming bathing season. It is expected that Green Coast / Blue Flag status will be achieved on these beaches again in the very near future.
Mayo was also awarded seven green coast awards. Rinroe, near Carrowteighe in North Mayo, has been awarded for the first time. These awards are given to beaches which have excellent water quality but may be less developed and less populated than Blue Flag beaches. The Mayo beaches included in the Green Coast awards are Tranaun Beach on Inishturk Island, Termon Beach, Srah Beach, Cross Beach in Belmullet, Carrowniskey, Portacloy Beach and Rinroe beach.
A local flag-raising event is planned for mid-June with the local school and community. The Green Coast Award is a symbol of environmental excellence and has been established to acknowledge, promote and protect the environment of our beaches. The award is for beaches which have excellent water quality, but which are also prized for their natural, unspoilt environment. These sites must be managed in partnership with the local community to be considered for the Green Coast Award.
Martin Keating, Head of Environment, Climate Change and Agriculture at Mayo County Council, welcomed the Blue Flag Status and Green Coast for the 17 Mayo beaches, saying: "The Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards are global recognition of high standards of Mayo Beaches. I would like to acknowledge the work of The Environmental team at Mayo County Council together with other agencies for all their efforts in ensuring that the beaches being awarded for the 2019 bathing season have achieved the excellent standards required by the Blue Flag. Plans to make provision for disabled access to bathing waters with beach wheelchairs are under way. Further details to be announced shortly."