Green spaces within Mid and East Antrim have been recognised by the Green Flag awards scheme.
The Green Flag Award scheme is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK and recognises excellence in the management of public spaces.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council collected three Green Flag Awards for its high environmental standards and excellence in recreational green areas, bringing the total number of Green Flag accredited spaces in the borough to seven.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr. Audrey Wales, said: “We entered three new sites for Green Flag consideration this year – Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne, Ecos Nature Park, Ballymena and Eden Allotment Gardens, Carrickfergus – and are delighted to announce that all three sites received the coveted Green Flag Award.
“Council received four Green Flag Awards last year – for Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen, Carrickfergus, Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead, Dixon Park, Larne and People’s Park, Ballymena – and are very pleased to have been awarded the Green Flag Award for these four sites again this year thanks to our Parks & Open Spaces staff keeping up the high standards.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in this process including the Green Flag Award Scheme, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and of course our hard working staff who maintain and manage our green sites. Finally, a big thank you to the local communities who enjoy our sites, get involved in our events and activities and treat the sites with the respect they deserve.”
Alderman John Carson, Chair of the Operations Committee, added: “Holding a Green Flag Award brings with it a vast amount of prestige. It is also an excellent example of civic achievement and provides communities with a great sense of civic pride. Winning a Green Flag Award visibly demonstrates to the local community and councillors that a site is being well managed for the benefit of the local community and local wildlife.”
Meanwhile, Belmont Cemetery in Antrim is the latest area within the Antrim and Newtownabbey borough to be awarded the Green Flag and now joins the other 10 parks and green spaces which, this year, retained the prestigious award.
Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House and Sentry Hill Historic House and Visitor Centre, 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.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor John Scott, said: “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.”
Councillor Jim Montgomery, Chair of Operations Committee at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, 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.”