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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Mid and East Antrim's coastal gems win 6 prestigious awards

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Cllr Peter Johnston and Karena Catterson, MEABC's Maritime Development Officer

Mid and East Antrim's coastal gems have not only been glittering in the sunshine this bank holiday, but basking in the glory after netting six seaside awards.

Carrickfergus, Glenarm and Portglenone Marinas have achieved Blue Flag status.

Beach and marina operators receiving a Blue Flag are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the coastal environment, excellent water quality, water safety, and providing access for all, along with providing engaging educational activities on-site.

Meanwhile, Ballygally and Carnlough Beaches and Brown’s Bay have won the Seaside Award. This means they've ticked the boxes required to national standards for beaches across the UK. 26 beaches and marinas across the country have achieved standards of excellence at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful annual Beach and Marina Awards. The focus of this years’ event is to celebrate Northern Ireland’s stunning array of blue spaces and raise awareness of the benefits a healthy marine environment and the positive connection between the outdoors and our physical and mental health. The Beach and Marina Awards are internationally recognised awards that highlight how Northern Ireland’s blue spaces are something to take pride in, look after and enjoy; with the awards also giving an opportunity to celebrate those key workers who maintain our local beaches and marinas to such high standards.

The internationally renowned Blue Flag will be flown at 8 of Northern Ireland’s beaches and 6 marinas during the 2021 season. The Blue Flag award is certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and has 49 participating countries globally. Northern Ireland’s 14 blue space locations will join the 4,820 beaches, marinas or boats that proudly fly the Blue Flag globally.

The Seaside Award and Green Coast Awards programme ensures visitors of a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed beach with the facilities provided being appropriate for the location of the beach. 1 beach has received the Green Coast Award and 11 beaches have received the Seaside Award in 2021.

The Blue Flag and Seaside Awards may only be flown if all the criteria are successfully met at time of application and also maintained throughout the entirety of the bathing season.

Northern Ireland’s coastline has numerous iconic sights, and many of our award-winning beaches include or are next to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with specially protected habitats and species forming a large part of the experience visitors enjoy.

The aim of these award programmes is to improve the connection between people and their surroundings by encouraging them to spend time in and learn more about their coastal environment.

Many award-winning beaches and marinas provide information points to showcase the best of Northern Ireland’s wildlife and provide visitors with information on how they can enjoy these natural wonders without disturbing or damaging them.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Peter Johnson said:

“It is fantastic that so many of our beautiful seaside locations have been recognised in this year’s Beach and Marina Awards. It is a fitting tribute to the work of both the Council employees and the many groups of volunteers who together strive to keep our coastline clean, tidy and welcoming for visitors.

“This summer we hope many people will be able to visit the area and take the opportunity to exploring our beaches and beauty spots. However I would make the plea to everyone to do so responsibly and, critically, in line with PHA guidelines. We want our beaches to be safe and will do all we can as a Council to deliver on this but everyone has to take responsibility for their own actions as we continue through the pandemic. I would ask that everyone respects social distancing and takes ALL litter home with them.”

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said:

“The past year has restricted our ability to travel and meet people. Yet, we are fortunate to have such great local blue spaces right on our doorstep. All of us can be rightly proud of this beautiful place we call home. Behind every one of these special places are dedicated key workers whose effort all year round keeps these blue spaces in such excellent condition. These awards are a small way of saying thank you and recognising that we have so much to be proud of in our community."

It is of paramount importance that all beach and marina goers behave responsibly and follow the public health guidance provided by the Northern Ireland Executive and by their local council. Information and guidance on how to enjoy a safe and healthy visit to sites or outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland can be found at:

Information on the award-winning blue spaces can be found at and

Awards for Beaches and Marinas

A Blue Flag is a symbol of excellence worldwide. Beaches and marinas with a Blue Flag are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the coastal environment, excellent water quality, safety, and access for all. You will often find activities and events happening on Blue Flag sites, as environmental education is an important part of the award criteria. The beaches and marinas are inspected during the season and may only fly the Blue Flag if all the criteria are successfully met and maintained.

The Seaside Award is the national standard for beaches across the UK. The award ensures visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed coastal environment with varied levels of facilities provided depending on the location of the beach. Seaside Award beaches are likely to have facilities such as toilets and parking.

Green Coast recognises beaches where the local community has made a commitment to protecting and promoting the environment rather than developing visitor infrastructure. As such this award aims to recognise more rural, natural beaches that retain their unspoilt character.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a sustainable Northern Ireland, running environmental education programmes and awareness raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful deliver many international awards including the Blue Flag for Beaches and Marinas and Green Flag Award for Parks and Open Spaces to improve the local quality of our environment and strive for environmental excellence.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are national coordinators for Eco-Schools in Northern Ireland, the world’s largest international environmental education programme. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to promote Climate Action, Biodiversity Recovery and Pollutions Solutions to change behaviours and practices so everyone can enjoy a beautiful, resilient, and healthy environment.

For more information, visit:


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