The Vale of Glamorgan Council has been trumpeting the award this week of a “prestigious” international Blue Flag for the beach at Whitmore Bay, Barry – one of three awards made to different Barry beaches
A Blue Flag Award has also been made to Penarth Marina but the Labour run Vale Council failed to nominate Penarth Beach.
Other awards went to Southerdown, to pebbly Cold Knap, and to Barry Island’s other beach at Jackson’s Bay .
The lack of an award for the super-clean sea-shore at Penarth is likely to be a disappointment for the Volunteer Beach-Wardens who work so hard throughout the year to keep the Penarth foreshore free of litter.
It turns out that Penarth Beach was never in the running for such an award – not because the beach isn’t clean enough – but because the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council apparently didn’t submit an application for Penarth’s beach to be considered in the scheme.
It’s claimed that “The Blue Flag Award is a highly respected international award owned by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE) and runs in 49 countries across the world. ”
However Blue Flags are not like “Which” consumer reports – or “secret shopper” tests – and no random anonymous inspectors call around to test the sand, analyse the sea water and dispense the seaside equivalent of Michelin stars.
The Blue Flag scheme is actually operated in Wales by the so-called “charity” Keep Wales Tidy – which leaves it to the local authorities themselves to select the candidate beaches in their area for which they would like to receive an award.
Councils use a tick-box checklist of the basic requirements and then submit an application for their nominated beaches to be awarded a Blue Flag,
The checklist (which appears in full on http://tinyurl.com/jq4javm ) requires – amongst other things – that:-
- No dogs should be on the beach during the summer
- The beach should be free of litter and detritus.
- A part-time lifeguard should be on hand
- There should be public drinking water available on the beach
- There should be toilets and parking nearby and easy access
- The sea-water quality as tested by Natural Resources Wales has to be of “excellent” quality.(In fact it wasn’t until last year that the sea-water quality at Whitmore Bay, Barry was good enough to reach the Natural Resources Wales “excellent” standard.)
Penarth, however, is not one of the locations at which Natural Resources Wales even carries out regular monitoring of sea-water quality and therefore no statistics for the quality of sea-water at Penarth or its bacterial content are available on the organisation’s website.
Natural Resources Wales however does regularly monitor no less that 3 separate sites in Barry – (Porthkerry, Whitmore Bay and Jackson’s Bay).