Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today presented the Green Flag Awards to a record number of public green spaces at a ceremony in Antrim Castle Gardens.
Forty-three of the North’s public parks, country parks, cemeteries and green spaces met the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award, an increase of 23% on last year. In addition six sites in the Republic were awarded their pilot Green Flag Award for the first time.
The Green Flag Awards are judged by volunteer expert judges who visit sites and assess against eight set criteria, including cleanliness, sustainability and conservation.
Mark H Durkan said: “Parks enhance the quality of life for so many of us, particularly those living in urban areas.
“They are an integral part of what makes our part of the world attractive to increasing numbers of visitors. They play a vital role in helping to improve the health and wellbeing of communities across the island. During 2014 over 15 million visits were made to visitor attractions here, with country parks, forests, gardens and parks attracting the largest proportion of visitors, nearly two out of every five visits.
“I commend the dedication of staff and local communities in promoting and improving our public green spaces across the island. Due to their hard work more public spaces and green spaces than ever before boast the highest possible standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent facilities.
“I am delighted to see colleagues from An Taisce at today’s awards and, as the Green Flag Awards scheme expands across the island, I am confident it will go from strength to strength improving our green spaces for the benefit of everyone.”