Newtownabbey Borough Council has received seven prestigious Green Flag Awards for its parks and green spaces.
The announcement was made on Monday, July 28 at Stormont Estate by the environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
The Green Flag Awards are judged every year by volunteer expert judges who visit applicant sites and assess them against eight set criteria, including cleanliness, sustainability and conservation.
Supported by Heyn Waste Solutions, the award is set against an international benchmark standard for parks and green spaces. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards.
For the 2014/15 season a total of 35 parks and green spaces across Northern Ireland received awards, exceeding tough environmental standards for green space management and visitor facilities.
Newtownabbey Borough Council received Green Flag Awards for the following sites: Ballynure Cemetery; Lilian Bland Community Park, Glengormley; Rashee Cemetery, Ballyclare; Sentry Hill Historic House & Visitor Centre; Kilbride Cemetery; Mallusk Cemetery and the Newtownabbey Way.
“We are pleased to have been awarded seven Green Flag Awards this year. Our parks and green spaces provide excellent resources for the borough and are places where people value and take pride in their surroundings,” said Deputy Mayor Pat McCudden.
“The Green Flag Awards are great achievements and show the effort that goes into keeping our environment greener, cleaner and safer for all.”
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has reported an incredible 57 per cent increase in public parks, country parks, cemeteries and green spaces meeting the internationally recognised standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.
This year first-time winners of the award included Ballynure Cemetery, Lilian Bland Community Park, Rashee Cemetery and Sentry Hill Historic House, as well as larger sites across the province such as Stormont Estate, Ness Country Park, Dunville Park and Woodvale Park, Kiltonga Nature Reserve and Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
Speaking at the Green Flag Awards event, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “We can be rightly proud of our beautiful public parks and open green spaces. They are an integral part of what makes Northern Ireland attractive to increasing numbers of tourists and they play a very important role in helping to improve the quality of life for all of the people of the North.
“I look forward to the excellent Green Flag Award Scheme moving on from strength to strength over the coming years and helping more of our public parks and open green spaces achieve higher environmental standards.”
The full list of Green Flag Award winners for 2014/15 can be viewed online at www.keepbritaintidy.org/greenflagawards2014/1393