Blackpool is proudly flying the Blue Flag today as one of the resort’s beaches has been named among the best in the world.
Tourism chiefs, engineers and council bosses are among those celebrating the award of a prestigious Blue Flag at Blackpool South – the only stretch in the North West to match the exacting global standards.
The announcement comes fewer than four years after fears were raised Blackpool’s bathing waters could become a no-go zone due to poor water quality.
Now, the stretch opposite the Pleasure Beach rivals the best the Caribbean, Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific coastlines can offer.
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, is hoping the landmark award will bring crowds flocking back to the seaside.
She said:“The amount of investment and effort that has gone into improving Blackpool’s sea water over the last few years is nothing short of phenomenal.
To have been awarded our first ever Blue Flag is an outstanding achievement and it’s another boost to our local economy as we secure our position as the UK’s number one seaside resort
“Only four years ago every expert in the country was telling us we would fail the bathing water standards.
“That simply wasn’t an option and, through hard work with our partners as well as the hundreds of businesses and volunteers who have joined in with the LOVEmyBEACH campaign, we’ve now got an entire stretch of beach we should all be immensely proud of. “To have been awarded our first ever Blue Flag is an outstanding achievement and it’s another boost to our local economy as we secure our position as the UK’s number one seaside resort.
“Not only is it fantastic to be granted Blackpool’s first Blue Flag but to be the only one in the North West is a great honour.”
Claire Smith, of hotels group StayBlackpool, said: “It’s brilliant news and so many people have worked so hard. There’s the beach cleaners, United Utilities who have put so much money into the resort. We’re now seeing the results.
“It’s all about perception. People see a clean beach, clean water and they think of a clean town.
“We were all fearful when Europe raised the bathing water standards.
“This proves what can be done when you all work together and I am thrilled.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said he might be tempted to take a dip on Blackpool’s new Blue Flag beach.
“It’s extremely good news,” he said. “As somebody who has once or twice taken a swim in the waters off Blackpool, it’s a real incentive to give it a go again.
“It is worth noting that this wouldn’t have happened without a significant investment from United Utilities.
“They have invested that money because the EU raised the bar when it comes to bathing water standards.”
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative Group on Blackpool Council, now wants to see the Blue Flag standard met on every stretch of Blackpool’s world famous sands.
He said: “What fantastic news.
“Let’s now see this happen down the rest of the coast, so all of Blackpool has Blue Flag status.”
For the past five years a huge operation has been under way to improve the quality of Blackpool’s bathing waters.
Since 2011 the Fylde Peninsula Water Management Partnership, made up of public and private sector companies, has worked to increase investment in the area’s sewer network, as well as creating teams of volunteers and businesses to look after the quality of the Fylde Coast’s seas.
United Utilities has invested more than £600m in schemes to capture and treat wastewater since the early 1990s. A further £100m is currently being ploughed into schemes around Blackpool, including a huge storm water storage tank at Anchorsholme Park.
Sarah Jenner, environmental strategy manager at United Utilities, said: “We are thrilled for Blackpool that all the hard work is now paying off. It’s amazing to think how far we have come over the last 20 years.”
On top of the Blue Flag at Blackpool South, Blackpool North beach opposite the Tower, Blackpool Central beach and Bispham beach have also been given Seaside Award status.
In Wyre the Ferry and Marine and Rossall beaches are also Seaside Awards winners as is the St Annes Pier Beach.
As part of celebrating the announcement, a large Blue Flag will fly from the top of Blackpool Tower today until the end of the month.