Sandhaven Beach will once again fly the flag for the summer season after retaining two coveted national awards.
The stunning tourist attraction at South Shields seafront has secured Blue Flag status as well as the Seaside Award from leading environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy. The awards act as a guarantee that South Tyneside has one of the best beaches in the world.
Both the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards are the quality marks for beaches and mean that visitors can be sure that they boast top notch facilities, are clean and safe and meet the highest environmental standards.
For many people going to the beach also means a dip in the sea. The awards acknowledge that Sandhaven has met the required European Union standards for water quality, with Blue Flag beaches subject to even tougher tests meeting the very highest international standards.
Councillor Moira Smith, South Tyneside Council's Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "Sandhaven Beach is one of South Tyneside's best assets and helps us to attract thousands of visitors every year. It is wonderful news that it has received the Blue Flag and Seaside awards once again.
"These awards are real badges of honour for beaches and are a mark of our commitment to keeping our beaches looking their best and making sure they are clean and safe for residents and visitors alike.
"They are not given lightly. They are difficult to achieve and are yet another ringing endorsement of the quality experience and superb facilities that visitors to Sandhaven can enjoy. Well done to our staff and partners for all their hard work and commitment to maintaining such high standards."
Sandhaven is listed among 68 beaches in the UK to receive the Blue Flag award and one of 117 to secure the Seaside Award.
Keep Britain Tidy's Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: "It is great news for holiday-makers, overseas visitors and businesses that rely on coastal tourism that we have been able to award so many flags this year.
"The success of our beaches in reaching the very high standards demanded by both awards are a real testament to all those who have worked so hard to protect and improve our beaches - from beach managers to local people and businesses.
"When you enjoy a day on the beach flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award, you know you are on one of the safest, cleanest and very best in the country."
In recent years, Sandhaven has seen the completion of a restoration project to help build up and stabilise sand levels to help enhance and protect the sand dunes for the future. This involved installing fencing to trap windblown sand as well as planting a variety of new dune grasses.
Earlier this year, a series of improvements was completed along Sandhaven's north promenade to help provide better links with the neighbouring Littlehaven Beach and make the area more attractive. These included new hard and soft landscaping, seating, improvements to the public toilets and new access points from the promenade.
Keep Britain Tidy is a leading environmental charity that cares for the environment on your doorstep. It works to eliminate littering, reduce waste and improve public space. It runs programmes including Eco-Schools, the Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces and the Blue Flag/Seaside Awards for beaches. To find out more about Keep Britain Tidy, its programmes and campaigns visit www.keepbritaintidy.org.
The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a non-governmental and non-profit organisation, launched the Blue Flag programme in 1987. Keep Britain Tidy administers the scheme in England. To be awarded a Blue Flag, beaches must comply with a number of criteria covering environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services.
The Seaside Award is run by Keep Britain Tidy and recognises and rewards beaches in England that achieve the highest standards of beach management and, in the case of bathing beaches, meet the required standards for water quality.
Sandhaven has secured the Blue Flag award almost every year for the last 17 years, from 2001-05, then again from 2007-17.
Sandhaven has also achieved the Seaside Award every year from 1996 to 2006 and then the Quality Coast Award for five years running from 2007 to 2012. Since then it has went on to receive the Seaside Award for the past five years.