27 Apr

Blue Flag awards

Although I personally love the remote beaches we have in the UK, lots do look for the family friendly Blue Flag beaches. But do you understand what a beaches Blue Flag actually means?

Beaches are awarded the Blue Flag for one season at a time based on compliance with a strict criteria. If the criteria are not fulfilled during the season or the conditions change, the Blue Flag may be withdrawn. The list is normally published late May each year.

A high level summary of the criteria is listed below.

Environmental Education and Information

  • Information about the Blue Flag must be displayed.
  • Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
  • Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
  • Information relating to local eco-systems and environmental phenomena must be displayed.
  • A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed.
  • A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed.

Water Quality

  • The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
  • The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis.
  • No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
  • The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter faecal coli bacteria (E.coli) and intestinal enterococci/streptococci.
  • The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical and chemical parameters.

Environmental Management

  • The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
  • The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach.
  • The beach must be clean.
  • Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach.
  • Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained.
  • Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
  • An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided.
  • The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean.
  • The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal.
  • There should be no unauthorised camping, driving or dumping of waste on the beach.
  • Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled.
  • All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained.
  • Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored.
  • A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area.

Safety and Services

  • An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach.
  • First aid equipment must be available on the beach.
  • Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place.
  • There must be management of beach users and events to prevent conflicts and accidents.
  • There must be safety measures in place to protect beach users.
  • A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach.
  • At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have wheelchair and accessibility features.
  • Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality.

For more detail take a look at the Blue Flag site.

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