Southwold Pier beach loses 'Blue Flag' title
PUBLISHED: 00:01 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:19 15 May 2019
Suffolk's only nationally-recognised environmentally-friendly beach has lost its Blue Flag status, it has been revealed today.
Southwold Pier was the only seaside location in Suffolk that met all the criteria set out by the international Blue Flag programme in 2018 - but this was taken away after the beach failed to meet all of the stringent rules on safety, cleanliness, water quality and high environmental standards this time around.
Blue Flag beaches also 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.
In Essex, beaches at Dovercourt and at Brightlingsea retained their Blue Flag status. There are 71 Blue Flag beaches in England in 2019.
Michael Ladd, Suffolk county councillor for Southwold and Kessingland, and David Beavan, who represents Southwold on the new East Suffolk Council, were unfazed by the change in status in Southwold.
Mr Beavan said: "Maybe if we had been told that more environmental information signs were needed for the award, we would have put more signs up. Obviously we're not too fussed because we still have a lot of tourists coming to visit and we were also given the Seaside Award, so people know Southwold is a great place to come and visit."
Three Seaside Awards - which do not have the same criteria on the display of environmental information - were awarded to Beaches in Southwold, Lowestoft and Kessingland.
The Seaside Awards are given out by the national Keep Britain Tidy campaign.
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Mr Ladd said: "I think tourism is important to our area of Suffolk and the Seaside Awards for Southwold and Kessingland show a place to be proud of.
"We will also be working to make sure we get the Blue Flag award back in 2020."
The annual awards come after polling for Keep Britain Tidy suggests many people feel a sense of guilt, or even "eco-anxiety", when they go to a beach or other tourist destination and see plastic rubbish around.
About 80% of the 2,003 people questioned agreed they would feel more relaxed going to a beach with recycling bins that is less likely to have litter.
Suffolk eco-warrior Jason Alexander was shocked to hear that Suffolk had lost its last Blue Flag beach.
"It's a big surprise to see the beach at the pier go backwards rather than forwards," he said.
"There's a lot of people doing a lot of good work in Suffolk, but there needs to be a more joined-up approach."
It has not been said at this time why the Blue Flag award was not given to Southwold beach.
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, added: "Visiting beaches with the Blue Flag or Seaside Award status means beach-goers can feel more relaxed in a setting that is environmentally considerate.
"Visitors can be reassured their destination is cared for and they will be able to help maintain the high standards of these awards thanks to their environmental initiatives."