Keep Britain Tidy has today announced the winners of 71 Blue Flags and 137 Seaside Awards. Visitors to award-winning beaches can be sure of a clean, safe beach with great facilities and for the 16th consecutive year this includes Westward Ho! in Torridge, which has received both the Blue Flag and Seaside Award. It’s one of only a handful in North Devon to meet the high standards of facilities and excellent water quality required to attain a Blue Flag designation. Backed by the pebble ridge and Northam Burrows Country Park, the golden sands of Westward Ho! beach stretch for over 2 miles at low tide. Popular with visitors throughout the year, the award supports its claim to be the area’s premier seaside destination.
This years awards come at a time when more and more people, especially the young and under 35’s are showing concern for plastic pollution both on beaches and in our seas. Research has shown that 78% would avoid visiting a beach without a Blue Flag or Seaside Award for this reason. A huge 88% of all respondents say that their eco-anxiety is lessened by knowing hundreds of beaches in the UK are following and implementing programmes that encourage responsible beach use, as recognised in the Blue Flag and UK Seaside Awards, including environmental education and cleaning regimes. Alongside this, Blue Flag beaches have to run a minimum of five educational activities for the local community and visitors to make people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment.
Senior Ranger – Michael Day said:
“We’re very lucky in Torridge to have such a fantastic beach at Westward Ho! that has now achieved the Blue Flag award for 16 years in a row. It also backs onto Northam Burrows which is another important asset for rare Wildlife and Plant species. The publics awareness of plastic issues in our marine environment has only increased interest in beaches that meet the strict criteria for cleanliness. The standard has been achieved through the hard work of our staff but also a great partnership with the many volunteers that help out.
In addition to all of this one of the important criteria of the Blue Flag award is environmental education. Torridge District Council provide a ranger service to provide a programme of events for schools and the general public. Having secured £1.2 million pounds in funding to redevelop the visitor centre this service will be enhanced. The new centre will also feature a café, shop, showers and toilets; improving facilities for visitors to this wonderful location.
We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to the area.”
Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “Visiting beaches with the Blue Flag or Seaside Award status means beach-goers can feel more relaxed in a setting that is environmentally considerate.
“We as individuals feel emotionally connected to the environment more than ever, with so many experiencing eco-anxiety. Keep Britain Tidy continues to push for more environmentally responsible beaches, where visitors needn’t feel this stress.
We’re incredibly pleased to have even more winners this year than last, proving the great dedication of the beach staff. From environmental education for the local community and ensuring responsible beach use, to cleaning regimes and an increasing number of recycling facilities, it is a full-time commitment to create beaches worthy of the awards.
A trip to the beach should always be care-free and visitors can guarantee this with even more Blue Flag and UK Seaside Award winners than last year.”