Rossnowlagh one of the many beautiful beaches in the county to retain its Blue Flag status this year.
Donegal was awarded 13 Blue Flags, including a new Blue Flag award for the Greencastle Marina in Inishowen, as well as five Green Coast awards in 2017.
Twelve Blue Flags were awarded to beaches at Bundoran, Rossnowlagh, Murvagh, Fintra, Narin (Portnoo), Carrickfinn, Killahoey (Dunfanaghy), Marblehill, Portsalon (Magherawarden), Shroove, Culdaff and Downings.
Meanwhile Ballyheirnan (Fanad), Drumnatinney (Falcarragh), Magheroarty, Port Arthur and Dooey each achieved the Green Coast award again this year.
Speaking after the announcement, Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely said, “We are delighted to have achieved a new Blue Flag for the Greencastle Marina and indeed retain the Blue Flag status for 12 of our beaches and the Green Coast award for five of our beaches.
“And while we are disappointed not to have retained the Blue Flag this year for Lisfannon due to the fact that the water quality was just outside the required excellent standard, we will be continuing to provide the same level of support and services at this beach with a view to achieving Blue Flag status in the upcoming bathing seasons,” Mr. Neely said.
To achieve Blue Flag status beaches and marinas must comply with a specific set of criteria relating to a number of areas including water quality.
At beaches the bathing water must comply with the 'excellent' standard in accordance with the 2008 EU Bathing Water Directive. Monitoring results for E. coli and Enterococci over a period of four years are evaluated by looking at the 95 percentile value and the relatively wet summers over the first half of this decade have led to a rise in these values in some cases.
In the case of Lisfannon beach, the 95 percentile value for E.coli was well within the boundary for ‘excellent’ quality; while the Enterococci 95 percentile achieved the 'good' water quality standard, giving an overall award of ‘good’ water quality.
Donegal County Council is reviewing the factors contributing to this 'Good' water quality with a view to attaining 'excellent' water quality in upcoming bathing seasons and with that, Blue Flag status.
The beautiful beach at Lisfannon still has very high water quality which continues to be monitored and results will be posted over the bathing season both online atwww.splash.ie and on site via the notice boards. The beach will continue to enjoy the same level of support and services such as lifeguard provision, waste disposal, etc as normal.
Green Coast awards for 5 Donegal beaches
Five Donegal beaches achieved the Green Coast award again this year and this award acknowledges beaches that have a clean safe environment, excellent water quality and good beach management. They may not have the built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set out for Blue Flag status however they are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity.
Blue Flag for Greencastle Marina
Greencastle Marina is the first marina in the county to receive Blue Flag status and to attain this award the marina has had to comply with stringent criteria concerning environmental information and education, environmental management, safety and service facilities, and water quality.
The Greencastle Marina is situated in the heart of the historic village of Greencastle and provides secure and safe berthing at the mouth of Lough Foyle.
With two Blue Flag beaches marking the approach to Greencastle, Stroove and Benone, the Greencastle Marina is a first port of call for yachts coming from Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Greencastle Marina is a seasonal facility, provided over the Blue Flag season and accommodates resident and visiting yachts, cruise ship tender boats visiting the locality, and occasional angling charter vessels.
Access is fully possible for visitors of all abilities via a gangway landing. A hoist is also permanently available, as necessary, for sailors requiring assistance to/from their boats.
Mr. Neely said, “We are delighted that Greencastle Marina has achieved this international status and this is a clear reflection on the investment made in the marina facilities at Greencastle over the last number of years.
“We all know that achieving Blue Flag status is no easy task, it requires ongoing dedication and commitment from everyone involved and in this regard I would like to pay tribute to the work of my own staff and indeed to the support and commitment of the elected members as well as the co-operation that we get from local communities and voluntary organisations throughout the year,” the chief executive said.