Current status2016
Short term status2012 - 2016
Long term status2007 - 2016

Click on the charts below in order to see the full resolution versions.

Chart C.2.iv. Change in number of Blue Flag and Green Coast Award beaches

The Blue Flag is operated in Ireland by An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised eco-labels.  The Blue Flag has been operating in Ireland since 1988 when 19 beaches and 2 marinas were awarded blue flags. Since then the Blue Flag programme has grown from strength to strength with 79 beaches and 6 marinas achieving the accolade in 2016.  The data compiled for this biodiversity indicator only include beach data.

Beaches are awarded the Blue Flag based on compliance with 32 criteria covering the following areas: 1) Environmental Education and Information Provision; 2) Water Quality; 3) Environmental Management and 4) Safety and Services. 

More information on the Blue Flag programme can be found here:


Trialled initially from 2003 to 2007, then launched nationally in 2008, the Green Coast Award acknowledges beaches which meet EU Bathing Water Directive standards, but which are also prized for their natural, unspoiled environment whereby the typically more rural setting of the beach would not be compatible with the level of infrastructure and intensive management generally associated with more urban, traditional seaside resort beaches

The Green Coast Award is objective-led and encourages 'best practice' in the management of rural beaches. The award also encourages community involvement through the setting up of Coastcare Groups. The Green Coast Award is a symbol of environmental excellence and has been established to acknowledge, promote and protect the environment of rural beaches in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

More information on the Green Coast Award can be found here:


The recent declines in the number of beaches in both the Blue Flag and Green Coast Award programmes are believed to be primarily driven by the phased implementation of stricter standards under the EU Bathing Water Directive from 2011-2012, with full implementation of the standards from 2013 onwards.


Change in number of Blue Flag and Green Coast Award beaches

The Blue Flag programme is an international eco-label, operated in Ireland by An Taisce, whereby beaches must comply with a specific set of criteria relating to water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety and beach management. For more rural beaches that are prized for their natural, unspoilt environment, there is a parallel Green Coast Award programme also operated by An Taisce.  For beaches in Europe, the bathing water must also meet with the standards set by the EU Bathing Water Directive. This indicator tracks the number of beaches in Ireland that have gained Blue Flag status or a Green Coast award.

Created: 2014-03-07 16:11:51 | Updated: 2017-05-12 16:08:38