Gwynedd beaches among ‘best in Wales and world’ not entered in Blue Flag scheme
Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter
A decision not to put beaches in Gwynedd forward as part of the Blue Flag scheme has sparked disappointment.
The scheme is a marker of cleanliness and safety and presented to well-managed beaches with excellent water quality.
A councillor has questioned why Cyngor Gwynedd did not put forward any of its beaches for the scheme, despite them being among the “best in the world”.
Cyngor Gwynedd defended the move, saying its beaches were still “clean and safe” and “as popular as ever”.
The issue was raised by the Harlech and Llanbedr Councillor Gwynfor Owen, during a recent full council meeting.
Speaking in the Dafydd Orwig chamber in Caernarfon, he said: “As one who represents areas with two of the best beaches in the world, Harlech and Llandanwg, and also stating that various other beaches in our county fall in the same category, I wish to register my disappointment that the council did not register for a Blue Flag for any our beaches. Can I ask why the council did not apply?”
The council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Economy, Councillor Nia Jeffreys, explained that Cyngor Gwynedd had not involved itself in the Blue Flag scheme during two of the last three years.
The scheme meant “increasing demands” on local authorities and Gwynedd’s decision was in line with Anglesey and Conwy.
A written answer explained that additional requirements to take part were also “expensive, onerous and at odds with established beach management arrangements”.
“The Blue Flag is just one accreditation which evaluates beaches based on various criteria,” Cllr Jeffreys said.
“It may not necessarily acclaim the outstanding features on Llandanwg and Harlech beaches.”
In a full written answer, she stated: “In Wales, the Blue Flag Beach Awards are administered by Keep Wales Tidy.
“It involves an annual process, and applications are assessed against set guidelines and criteria.
“The Blue Flag Beach Awards guidelines are reviewed annually, with increasing demands on local authorities.
“In Gwynedd, the council’s beach management functions are delivered by the Maritime Service.
“The Service prepares annual risk assessments for individual beaches – and the beach management arrangements are based upon mitigation measures identified within the risk assessments.
“For a period of over twenty years, applications submitted by the council have been approved on this basis.
“However, the current Blue Flag guidelines requires independent risk assessments to consider certain aspects, in this regard the council’s risk assessment are not considered adequate.
“The council’s risk assessments are undertaken by experienced and qualified staff with detailed understanding of individual beaches.
“Recent changes to the Blue Flag Award guidelines have been discussed with other local authorities in north west Wales.
Concerns have been raised that additional requirements are expensive, onerous and at odds with established beach management arrangements, and it was decided that Gwynedd Council, Isle of Anglesey and Conwy Council would not submit applications this year.
“Gwynedd Council has not celebrated Blue Flag Awards during two of the last three years, and yet our beaches have been amongst the busiest ever.
“The Blue Flag is just one accreditation which evaluates beaches based various criteria, and may not necessarily acclaim the outstanding features on Llandanwg and Harlech beaches.
“Our beaches are as clean, safe and popular as they have always been.
“Water quality is measured regularly, with many beaches achieving the highest standard of ‘excellent’.
“Our beaches remain amongst the best in Wales and will continue to attract thousands of visitors again this summer.”
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