Westward Ho! included in Blue Flag and Seaside Awards for 2022
Published: 16 May 2022
It remains in the elite of only 57 beaches awarded both accolades, which is a slight increase from the 56 announced last year. 80 beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag this time around, up from 76, and 128 will be displaying Seaside Awards.
The Blue Flag is widely considered to be the gold standard for beaches and as such is internationally recognised. While most people are aware that the certification guarantees the quality of the bathing water this is only part of the list of criteria on which beaches are judged. To qualify the beach must satisfy standards in four categories and against 33 individual targets covering environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management including litter and waste, safety and services such as first aid and lifeguards.
Blue Flag beaches have to run a minimum of five educational activities for the local community and visitors to make people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment. Rangers at Northam Burrows run programmes for Schools and the General Public right through the year. The extended and refurbished visitor centre opened in 2021 has added new exhibition spaces and an education room to boost the education programme further, as well as offering a new Café and important changing places facility for disabled visitors.
Backed by the pebble ridge and Northam Burrows Country Park, the golden sands of Westward Ho! stretch for over 2 miles at low tide. Popular with visitors and locals throughout the year, Westward Ho! also became the focus of national attention last year when community led initiatives saw the resort become the first in the country to ban the sale of cheap polystyrene bodyboards following the finding that around 16,000 of these are discarded on our beaches up and down the country each year.
Torridge Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin - Lead Member for Community, Culture and Leisure said:
“We’re very lucky in Torridge to have such a fantastic beach at Westward Ho! that has consistently achieved the Blue Flag award for over 19 years in a row. It also backs onto Northam Burrows, which is another important asset for rare wildlife and plant species. A better awareness of plastic issues in our marine environment has only increased interest in beaches that meet the strict criteria for cleanliness. This achievement is a real collaborative effort between our Rangers, the RNLI lifeguards, partner organisations such as the AONB and community groups that do such a great job in helping to clean-up the beaches on a regular basis. We look forward to another bumper year for tourism in our area and hope that all beach goers will continue to help us maintain the cleanliness of the beach as they have in the past.”