Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Blue flag beach dilemma?

Readers of this blog may know that one of my pet hates is conservation measures or departments which seem to spend all their time promoting development and extra construction. I have recently become aware of the criteria for the ‘blue flag’ awarded to clean beaches and this seems to fit the bill.

Ok. I like the fact that blue flag is a way of promoting clean beaches, and that they pay attention to things like recycling and sustainable transport. The problem is that they demand things like signs, bins, toilets, water supplies and disabled access. Dogs must be kept on a lead and camping must be restricted. While this may be absolutely fine for beaches that are already developed and decked out with facilities, where does it leave the rest? What if, for want of a better word, there is a wild beach? It will have no toilets, or bins, or signs, or water sources, but it might be clean, beautiful and a haven for wildlife.

In one sense there is no problem, the ‘wild’ beach simply won’t get listed. I suspect however that there is intense pressure on districts and councils to get blue flags, as many as possible. This may lead to well meaning local governments opening up ‘pristine’ beaches for development, potentially fatally undermining them.

I am all for water testing and schemes that put pressure on authorities to keep the landscape and oceans clean, but this must not be confused with branding, commercialisation and tourist development. In fact, the two should be kept as far apart as possible.

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