A total of 11 parks, cemeteries and visitor attractions across the Antrim and Newtownabbey borough have been awarded Green Flag status.
Sentry Hill Historic House and Visitor Centre and Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House, both of which were previously awarded the Green Flag, also received the Green Heritage Award, a new category for 2016 awarded to sites which conserve, enhance and help people to enjoy the heritage value of the site.
In addition, the council’s Cemeteries Supervisor, Kenny McFall was announced as the Green Flag Employee of the Year, and Paul Edge of Ballyeaston Village Committee received the award for Green Flag Volunteer of the Year.
There was yet more local success at the Green Flag Awards ceremony when Ballyeaston Church Ruin, managed and maintained by Ballyeaston Village Committee, received a Green Flag Community Award.
Other local sites that retained their Green Flag status included Ballyclare Cemetery, Ballynure Cemetery, Kilbride Cemetery, Newtownabbey Way, Six Mile Water Park, Lilian Bland Community Park, Mallusk Cemetery and Rashee Cemetery.
Awarded by Environmental Charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful in association with Heyn Environmental Solutions, the Green Flag Award is recognised throughout the world and sets an international benchmark standard for the management of parks and green spaces.
A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.
“I am absolutely delighted that we have been presented with these highly prestigious awards by Minister Michelle McIlveen. They are truly well deserved and testament to the hard work of our staff and local community, who put so much into enhancing and preserving our outdoor spaces and tourist attractions,” said Mayor John Scott.
Councillor Jim Montgomery, Chair of the council’s Operations Committee, added: “I would like to congratulate everybody involved in this fantastic achievement. Our borough has some of the most beautiful parks and open spaces within Northern Ireland and I am delighted that their environmental standards have been recognised.”
Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme. All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the hundreds of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”
The Green Flag Awards are judged every year by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement. This year a record 51 green spaces across Northern Ireland were awarded a Green Flag.
For more information about the Green Flag Award log on to www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org