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Minister welcomes improvement in Northern Ireland bathing waters


Glenarm, County Antrim. Photo: Holly McDonagh

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has welcomed the latest Bathing Water Compliance report that says almost three quarters of our bathing waters have met excellent standards and continue to improve.


All 26 bathing waters around our coast have met strict standards for quality. Nineteen of the 26 bathing waters were classified as ‘Excellent’, a prerequisite for the coveted Blue Flag Award; with a further five meeting the ‘Good’ standard and the rest meeting the ‘Sufficient’ standard.



Welcoming the report, Minister Poots said:


“This is great news for Northern Ireland’s beaches, especially given the continuing changeable weather and another difficult year we have had with COVID-19. The fact that people have been able visit our fantastic outdoor spaces safely and enjoy our beaches has been reassuring to many. Our beaches contribute to the health and well-being of locals and visitors alike.”



The Minister continued:


“Everyone should take pride in these results and be assured that we will continue to work with our stakeholders and partner agencies towards further reducing water pollution and keeping bathing waters clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.”



The 2021 results are:


Excellent Quality


  • Magilligan (Benone)

  • Magilligan (Downhill)

  • Castlerock

  • Portstewart

  • Portrush (Mill) West

  • Portrush (Curran) East

  • Portrush Whiterocks

  • Portballintrae

  • Ballycastle

  • Helen’s Bay

  • Crawfordsburn

  • Groomsport

  • Millisle

  • Ballywalter

  • Cloughey

  • Tyrella

  • Murlough Co. Down

  • Cranfield Bay

  • Kilclief



Good Quality


  • Carnlough

  • Ballygally

  • Brown’s Bay

  • Newcastle

  • Ballyhornan


Sufficient Quality


  • Waterfoot

  • Ballyholme



The 2021 Bathing Water Compliance results are available at:


www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/bathing-water-quality


The bathing season normally runs from 1 June to 15 September. During this time, a comprehensive bathing water monitoring programme is carried out by DAERA staff. This programme has been in place since 1988.


Comparing the 2021 with the 2020 classifications, the overall classification for 20 locations were unchanged. An improvement in classification was seen at 5 locations; Ballycastle, Ballywalter and Portrush (Curran) East moved from ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’ whilst Carnlough and Newcastle moved from ‘Sufficient’ to ‘Good’ and Ballyhornan dropped from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Good’.