Plague of rats threatened status of Blue Flag beach, says An Taisce

ONE of Cork’s finest beaches nearly lost its coveted Blue Flag status due to an infestation of rats.

An Taisce, which administers the Blue Flag environmental award scheme, revealed yesterday that it had told Cork County Council to clean up its act at Youghal Strand following complaints about rats. An Taisce spokeswoman, Aisling Keane, said the problem was identified two weeks ago following complaints from the public.

Rats had infested a storm drain and the county council brought in specialists to dispose of them.

“In fairness to Cork County Council, it dealt with the problem as quickly as possible. If it had persisted it would have had severe health implications, especially in relation to children,” Ms Keane said.

County Cork boasts nine Blue Flag beaches but lost one earlier this year when An Taisce ruled the beach at Owenahincha didn’t meet the strict criteria.

“This was due to a litter problem. We hope the council will come up with a litter management plans to rectify the situation,” Ms Keane said.

The outgoing president of Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Barbara Murray, said she was very concerned about what had happened at the strand.

“We’re very proud of our Blue Flag status and we take pride in telling people about it. The beach has been spotless for years and I can only think that somebody must have tipped rubbish in the area which attracted the rats,” Ms Murray said.

She added that she had admonished a woman for digging a hole in the sand and burying a soiled nappy, but otherwise found people to be very responsible.

“If we had lost our Blue Flag status it would have been devastating. The quality of the beach is a major selling point for tourism,” Ms Murray said.

She added that tourism in the area was noticeably down this year.

“We’re in the peak season and it certainly isn’t as good as other years,” she said.

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