Mid Ulster now has a trio of green flags after The Hill of The O’Neill joined Dungannon Park and Maghera Walled Garden as a recipient of the prestigious environmental award.
The Hill was also the venue for the awards ceremony - held on July 26 - which saw a record 70 parks and green spaces win green flags for exceeding tough environmental standards for green space management and visitor facilities, and achieving an internationally recognised certification for environmental quality management.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake, who opened the event, said: “Parks and open spaces matter to our residents for a whole variety of reasons. 91% of people believe that open spaces improve their quality of life, and it’s said a green view can reduce stress inthree to five minutes.
“Studies have also shown that a daily walk in the park can reduce the risk of a heart attack by as much as 50%.
“Good quality open spaces can reduce anti-social behaviour and play a role in community cohesion as everyone - communities and neighbours - use the space together.
“They also play a critical role in caring for and sustaining our environment and natural habitats – one hectare of trees and shrubs can absorb one tonne of CO2, that’s the equivalent of emissions from 100 family cars.
“Green Flag Awards recognise the importance of maintaining and promoting our quality green spaces, and we are naturally delighted from a Mid Ulster perspective that The Hill of The O’Neill has joined Dungannon Park and Maghera Walled Garden in holding the accolade.”
The Green Flag Awards are managed locally by KeepNorthern Ireland Beautiful and judged annually by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, ranging from horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.
Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme.
“We are proud to have so many wonderful green spaces in Northern Ireland for people to experience, and encourage the public to head outdoors.”
For further information about the Green Flag Award or other programmes run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful visit the website www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.