SOUTH Down Ulster Unionist MLA John McCallister has spoken of his grave concerns that two local beaches failed to meet guidelines set by the Marine Conservation Society.
Mr McCallister said, “I am sure that many people share my disappointment that less than half of Northern Ireland’s beaches are recommended as being fit for swimmers.
“Here in South Down we have two beaches that didn’t make the grade – Newcastle and Cranfield Bay- and that comes hugely worrying news. In this area we rely heavily on visitor numbers and the tourist trade, so news like this will not do us any favours.
“I am a regular visitor to both beaches and remember holidaying in Cranfield frequently as a child. The section of the beach that failed is Cranfield Bay -the public part of the beach, while Nicholson’s Strand, directly in front of Cranfield Caravan Park, only met basic minimal guidelines.
“Northern Ireland relies greatly on the tourist industry and the beauty of our scenery is a major attraction.
“Our beaches are a huge asset in attracting both locals and visitors alike and it is essential that work is done to ensure that resources are made available to ensure that our beaches are up to the highest standards. The failure of the beach at Newcastle – one of Northern Ireland’s Premier seaside resorts must be of particular concern.
“With even stricter EU standards due to be imposed from 2015, the time for action is now,” added Mr McCallister.