By Kieran O’Mahony
AN Taisce has confirmed that it did not receive an application for a Blue Flag for Garrettstown Beach this year.
However, Ian Diamond of An Tasice said that the reason no application was submitted for the former Blue Flag holder was because the beach did not achieve the excellent water quality status required under the Flag’s criteria.
It was a similar story with Rocky Bay at Nohoval, with no application being received for a Green Coast Award, because the beach did not achieve the excellent water quality standard needed for that particular award.
Blue Flags are awarded, not soley on the basis of compliance to water quality, but also facilities for visitors, and good beach management, including litter control, environmental education and the provision of information.
Councillors raised the problems at Garrettstown at a recent meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said the water there is good quality, but not exceptional.
‘A beach does not get a Blue Flag unless the water there is excellent and this gives us the urge to insist Irish Water take over the Ballinspittle Sewerage Scheme,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Council official Mac Dara O’hIcí said that Garrettstown Beach has suffered a lot of problems since the bad summer of 2012. Council chief executive engineer Charlie McCarthy also agreed that the bad weather has had an effect on water quality at the beach.
Council executive engineer for Kinsale, Brendan Fehily, said that until someone tackles the effluent from the catchment area, then Garrettstown will not get a Blue Flag and that there was no point having ‘crocodile tears’ about it. He pointed out that nearby Garrylucas Beach has no problem and had excellent water quality, and retained its Blue Flag status.
‘In the UK they look at the source of the problem and they put up monitors on the beach so the technology is there for it,’ said Mr Fehily.
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) also agreed that unless they get a treatment plant for Ballinspittle, this wouldn’t change for Garrettstown. However, he also questioned the importance of the classification for beaches.
‘I think Blue Flags have lost the value they once had, and people don’t hold them in the same regard anymore. One night of heavy rain could change the status of a beach overnight,’ said Cllr Coleman.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) also said that Green and Blue Flags aren’t as important as they once were, and he highlighted the fact that Rocky Bay failed to receive a Green Coast Award but the quality of water is good and that these beaches are perfect for swimming.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) said it was disappointing that Garrettstown had lost its Blue Flag status.