Sandhaven beach in South Shields will be proudly flying the prestigious Blue Flag this summer after passing the very strictest tests for clean water, visitor facilities and environmental management.
It will be flying alongside the Resorts Flag and shows that Sandhaven is officially a super beach with facilities that have achieved the highest standards defined by European Law.
South Tyneside Council Leader, Councillor Paul Waggott says: "I am absolutely delighted that Sandhaven has been awarded the Blue Flag. It is superb news for the Borough as it shows the rest of the country what we have been saying for years - South Tyneside has wonderful beaches that are safe, clean and a real pleasure to use for all the family."
Over the years Sandhaven has consistently met the criteria for cleanliness, safety and facilities but this is the first year since 1991 that seawater quality has passed the Blue Flag test.
Sandhaven had to pass strict tests and in order to fly the flag during the bathing season it must display its water quality and the facilities provided on easy to read signs at the beach. Award winners are monitored regularly and if standards slip, the flag will be taken down. Some of the tests taken by ENCAMS included:
20 water samples taken at Sandhaven by the Environment Agency during the course of the season (May to September). These are sent away for analysis to the Environment Agency Laboratories at Leeds.
As part of the Blue Flag criteria the Council supplied documents relating to: Emergency Incident Plan; Operating Procedure for the Beach Lifeguard Unit; Unitary Development Plan; Waste Management and Traffic Management Plans.
A detailed plan of the beach showing the location of: water sampling point; safety signage; lifeguard stations; information points; car parks recycling points; telephones; toilet facilities; access points and litter bins.
Sandahaven has S.S.S.S.I Status (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to the wintering population of Sanderling (sea birds). It has a dispensation as a result of this to leave seaweed along the tide line during the winter months, as it is a food source for the birds.
Five examples of environmental initiatives that took place in and around Sandhaven last year. These were: Foreshore Cycle Hire Scheme; Exhibition at Souter Lighthouse Countryside Fayre; Destination Benchmarking Exercise to provide a profile of seafront visitors; Pipers on the Pier (Countryside Team event to encourage greater awareness of Purple Sandpipers) and Free Coach Parking (The Council received the bronze medal for Coach Friendly Resort of the Year)
The Blue Flag award is the second award Sandhaven has received this year - it retained the Encams Seaside Award Flag won in 2001. Sandhaven received A grades for access, beach cleanliness, control of dogs and maintenance.