Blue Flags set to fly as visitors urged to leave only footprints

Award-winning beaches across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have once more scooped more Blue Flags than any other UK destination in this year’s awards.

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy announced its iconic Blue Flags for excellent water quality, and our three towns have been confirmed with 12 awards in total with 14 additional Seaside Awards, which celebrate the quality and diversity of our coastline.

The recognition follows previous awards* for our coastline after Bournemouth was included on Trip Advisor’s list of the 25 best beaches in Europe 2023.

The news comes as BCP Council relaunches its Leave Only Footprints campaign to encourage visitors to help keep our stunning coastline and open spaces clean.

Achieving the Blue Flag accolade for the 36th time in Poole was Sandbanks, which has received the recognition every year since the scheme was launched, with Shore Road, Canford Cliffs and Branksome Chine also being honoured.

In Christchurch, Highcliffe Beach, Friars Cliff and Avon Beach were honoured for the second year in a row and in Bournemouth, Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Manor Steps, Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne received the flags.

Under the banner, Leave Only Footprints, beachgoers are invited to enjoy our award-winning beaches and clear up at the end of the day, take litter home or use the bins provided.

Anthony Rogers, BCP Council’s Head of Seafront, said: “We are extremely proud of the number of awards we’ve received this year.

“Our teams work incredibly hard behind the scenes to care for the beaches we all love and enjoy.

“We are lucky to be the guardians of such a breath-taking stretch of coastline and it’s great to know that Keep Britain Tidy have given us their seal of approval. We are encouraging all visitors to help us stay award-winning by picking up their litter, leave only footprints and help us protect our environment for generations to come’.”

Mr Rogers encouraged everyone to use the colour coded waste bins – blue for recycling and black for general waste.

Visitors to the region’s beaches are also being encouraged to use free water refill stations installed along the seafront in 2022, and which have been estimated to save 19,000 plastic bottles per month from the seafront in the busy summer period*. There are also additional measures, such as toy libraries, where children’s beach toys could be recycled and reused, along the seafront.

It will be attempting to reduce plastic waste at its beach-based kiosk at Durley Chine, by not selling any products wrapped in single use plastic and selling returnable cups instead – a model the council will trial to then roll out across its other seafront catering sites if successful.

Blue Flags are only presented to well-managed beaches with excellent water quality and environmental education programmes.

All the Blue Flag Awards-winning beaches across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were also given Seaside Awards, along with Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “Visitors to a beach flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award can be assured the beach will be clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as international bathing water quality standards.

“The Blue Flag is the world’s most recognised award for beaches and marinas and, to qualify, each applicant must meet and maintain a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria.

“We’d therefore like to recognise and applaud all those who have worked so hard to protect and improve some of our best-loved and most popular beaches. The collective efforts of beach managers, volunteers, residents and businesses all contribute to the success of these sites in achieving the incredibly high standards demanded.”

BCP Council’s seafront cleaning team removes around 2,000 tons of waste each summer from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s seafront.

The long-term aim remains to develop the Durley Chine building into an environmental education space.

*Some of the extra awards the destination has won as well as the ‘best of’ lists it is named on, include:

  • Number one for on Tripadvisor’s best UK beaches for 2023.
  • Bournemouth was one of only four beaches to be included on Trip Advisor’s list of the 25 best beaches in Europe 2023.
  • Avon Beach in Christchurch has recently been awarded a Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Award, this award chooses the best destinations, attractions and more based on the ratings and reviews submitted by Trip Advisor users.
  • In December, Crave magazine named Dorset, including Bournemouth Beach and Sandbanks in Poole, on their list of The Best UK Destinations for a Family Getaway
  • Parkdean Resorts named Hengistbury Head the UK’s best beach for a stargazing staycation with Bournemouth Beach coming in close behind at number 4 on their list.
  • In addition, Hengistbury Head in Bournemouth, Upton Country Park in Poole, and Poole Park all received the much-coveted Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the management of the historic features, which is supported by Historic England.
  • Upton Country Park was voted a South West Local Favourite in the 2022 UK’s Favourite Parks category by the Fields in Trust.

** Statistic about water refill stations

Last year’s installation of 150 water refill points has helped save thousands of plastic bottles from our shoreline already, with 19,000 saved during July 2022 alone.

Additional information about our seafront operations

The cleaning team start on site at 3am in the summer months to rake the beaches on tractors and litter pick before visitors arrive.

The beach-based venue at Durley Chine has been designed to be as sustainable as possible and includes six toilets and a waste management hub to handle the 2,000 tons of rubbish removed from our beaches every year.

Beach toy libraries will be located at:

  • Fisherman’s walk
  • Boscombe
  • West beach cliff lift
  • Durley Hub
  • Alum chine
  • Branksome chine
  • Shore road
  • Sandbanks

Blue Flag awards

Blue Flag is an international award managed by Keep Britain Tidy on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education.

It is only presented to well-managed beaches with water quality defined as ‘excellent’ under the EU Bathing Water Directive, while Seaside Awards are presented to the best beaches in England.

Among the criteria beaches are assessed against are:

  • Safety and services, such as first aid, lifeguards where necessary.
  • Environmental information including displaying details about local eco systems
  • Water quality – Blue Flag beaches must meet the ‘excellent’ water quality standard as set out in the EU bathing water directive and Seaside Award winners must meet the ‘sufficient’ standard.
  • Environmental management, including litter and waste.

Blue Flag awards went to:

  • Sandbanks Peninsula, Poole
  • Shore Rd, Poole,
  • Canford Cliffs, Poole
  • Branksome Chine, Poole
  • Alum Chine, Bournemouth
  • Bournemouth Manor Steps, Bournemouth
  • Durley Chine, Bournemouth
  • Fisherman’s Walk, Bournemouth
  • Southbourne, Bournemouth
  • Avon Beach, Christchurch
  • Friar’s Cliff Beach, Christchurch
  • Highcliffe Beach, Christchurch

Seaside awards

  • Bournemouth Pier
  • Boscombe Pier
  • Alum Chine
  • Bournemouth Manor Steps
  • Durley Chine
  • Southbourne
  • Fisherman’s Walk
  • Branksome Chine
  • Canford Cliffs
  • Shore Rd
  • Sandbanks
  • Avon Beach
  • Friar’s Cliff Beach
  • Highcliffe Beach