It will be at least four years before Youghal’s Front Strand and Claycastle beaches can regain their Blue Flag of Excellence. Only 7 of the County’s beaches have been given a Blue Flag this year and Redbarn in Youghal is the only Blue Flag beach in East Cork.
Changes to the Blue Flag Water Quality criteria, along with agricultural pressures on the Blackwater River and raw sewage being pumped into the sea water, have resulted in both Youghal Strands losing their Blue Flag status over the years.
This week Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said she had expected that the popular bathing areas would be on course to regain their flag of excellence, following the construction of the Sewage Treatment Plant in Youghal last year. “Over the past number of years we were depending on the Wastewater Treatment Plant to get our Blue Flag back, but that’s now up and running with 12 months.”
Louis Duffy, from the Council’s Environment Directorate, said that while Youghal’s Wastewater Treatment Plant will go a long way to rectifying the water quality issues, the quality needs to be excellent for a period of 4 consecutive years. Director of Services said “we are hoping the 2019 results should give us somewhere to start, so we should be talking about 4 years’ time.”
“On the basis of the Wastewater Treatment being fully effective this year, it will take another 3 years after that.” He said “without fail, we must retain the excellent status.”