EIGHT CLARE BEACHES have retained Blue Flags for the 2023 bathing season while Cappa has lost its status.
An Taisce have confirmed that Blues Flags have been retained in Whitestrand Miltown Malbay, Ballycuggernan, Whitestrand Doonbeg, Mountshannon, Fanore, Spanish Point, Kilkee and Lahinch.
Carrigaholt beach, Ballyalla Lake, Seafield and Bishop’s Quarter have each retained the Green Coast Award while Kilrush Marina has been included in the list of Blue Flag Marinas for the third consecutive year.
Cappa had held the Blue Flag for fifteen years until last week.
Confidence has been expressed by Clare County Council that Cappa will retain its Blue Flag next season. The local authority said the setback for the Kilrush beach relates to historical sampling data relating to testing carried out during the past four years into four classifications, namely Excellent, Good, Sufficient and Poor. Cappa has this year been classified as “Good”, which is above bathing water quality standard required, and the Council is reassuring the public that the area remains safe for swimming.
The Blue Flag programme aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas, and eco-tourism boats around the world. 2023 is the 36th year that beaches and marinas have been awarded here in Ireland and the 95 beaches and marinas being awarded is the highest annual total to date.
First presented in 2003, the Green Coast Awards recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Clean Coasts groups in the management of awarded sites.
Cllr. Tony O’Brien (FF), Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, commented, “Clare has a proud tradition of involvement in the Blue Flag award scheme, which represents high standards in water quality, environmental information and education, environmental management and safety, services and facilities. The county’s beaches have a longstanding reputation for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty”. He was confident Cappa would secure its Blue Flag status next year.
Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) stated, “The small rocky beach and nearby pier at Cappa are popular with local residents and visitors alike and the latest development will do little to change this. In line with the Bathing Water Quality Regulations 2008, regular testing at Cappa will continue from Monday which will reassure people that Cappa remains a safe environment in which to enjoy the waters of the Shannon Estuary”.
Siobhan McNulty, Acting Director of Services, Physical Development, Clare County Council explained, “One of the criteria for retaining the Blue Flag is bathing water quality, which is assessed as an average of the previous four years. The detection of several elevated E-coli and Enterococci readings in 2019, 2020 and 2022 means that bathing water quality for Cappagh has changed from ‘Excellent’ for 2022 to ‘Good’ for the 2023, which, under the Blue Flag Programme, would be insufficient to retain the Blue Flag this year. With increased sampling of the water quality being undertaken this summer, Clare County Council is hopeful that the Blue Flag will be flying high over Cappa once again during the 2024 bathing water season”.