STORMONT Minister, Chris Hazzard, has given his support to the campaign to have Killough beach nominated as one of the area’s top strands.
The campaign is seeking to have the beach included with Kilclief and Ballyhornan in applying for EU Bathing Water status — a prestigious award which is seen as important to tourism along the Lecale coast.
On Friday Mr Hazzard joined with members of Killough Community Association in supporting the nomination and said the village is visited by a large number of tourists every year.
“Killough has always been historically a seaside village used by thousands every year, and this a fact going back generations,” he said.
“I hope to raise this matter if and when we get back into government in March. In the meantime I have made my own submission pointing out that there are two camping and caravan sites in the area, the village is situated on the Ulster Way, attracts large crowds from beyond who use the beach on a regular basis not only throughout summer holiday periods but also year round to get great use of our beautiful beach and shoreline,” he added.
Community Association chairwoman, Frances McIlwaine said the community was ‘astounded’ the beach did not meet the first cut of approved beaches along with Ballyhornan and Kilclief in the consultation.
“It seems to us that that odd that those who have only visited our beautiful village once or twice are suggesting we do not have the visitor numbers to qualify as a traditional EU bathing beach,” she said.
“We have had many huge events over the last number of years on the beach, many of which have been digitally recorded and photographic evidence preserved to show events on the beach.
“We clearly meet the requirement for 50 to 100 people to be on the beach at least once a year to be a traditional bathing water beach under EU regulations many times over,” said Mrs McIlwaine.
Campaign head, councillor Cadogan Enright, agreed and said Killough beach is used year round by sea swimming clubs, surfers, scuba diving clubs and is a key exit and entrance point for the canoe trail around the coast.
“It is one of the few sites along with Ballyhornan where jet skis can be used to access the beach without adversely impacting wildlife. And all this without the charges for using the beach in neighbouring Tyrella,” he said.
Councillor Enright thanked Minister Hazzard for his ongoing support: “Chris Hazzard was instrumental in helping us get the initial £5,000 ‘seed money’ for this campaign, and we appreciate his ongoing support and look to him to use his influence when he hopefully finds himself back in office in March.”