2014 Blue Flag Award beaches

There are 177 Blue Flag Award in the British Isles all of which have met the stringent criteria to qualify

Blue Flag beaches

The Blue Flag beach award is widely considered the gold standard for beaches. Awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education, the Blue Flag is internationally recognised.

Whilst most people are aware that Blue Flag certification guarantees the quality of bathing water this is only part of the criteria. At this point it is worth stressing that a Blue Flag beach is not necessarily any better than other beaches. In fact, quite the opposite is true of many of Britain’s smaller, picturesque coves. The Blue Flag award is ideally suited to resort beaches with plenty of facilities. It is for this reason that the other awards granted in the UK may be of equal or more use in choosing a suitable beach.

The Blue Flag criteria are divided into four categories with a total of 33 individual targets. These main categories are:

  • Environmental Education and Information This includes information on the Blue Flag award itself along with details on the water quality. A beach map including locations of facilities must also be displayed.
  • Water Quality Second on the list is what most people assume the Blue Flag is all about. The most important stipulation is that no industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach.
  • Environmental Management These criteria include the administrative side of things as well as keeping the beach clean. It also states there must be toilets available to the public.
  • Safety and Services At the top of the list here is the beach should be patrolled by lifeguards. Other criteria include availability of drinking water and accessibility features.

The certification process is carried out every year and beaches can lose or gain their Blue Flag status. In the UK the annual results are announced at the beginning of June.

For more information and a complete list of criteria visit the Blue Flag Award website.