BARRY Island beach may soon be flying the prestigious Blue Flag after the water quality in Whitmore Bay met the award's strict criteria for the first time.

The popular bathing area met EC guideline standards for water quality, which are 20 times more demanding than the mandatory standards required by the European Bathing Water Directive.

However, Blue Flag beaches must also satisfy a number of other criteria relating to environmental management - litter, safety, facilities and education.

The improvement in water quality in Whitmore Bay has partly come about through Welsh Water's investment to improve discharges of sewage and sewage effluent in the area.

It is also the result of the efforts of many organisations and individuals to tackle diffuse sources of pollution such as private septic tanks, run off from farmland and drains.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has submitted a Blue Flag application to ENCAMS (Which administers the Blue Flag campaign in Wales). It must now await the decision.

The council's operational manager for Waste Management and Cleansing, Clifford Parish, said: "The council is delighted with the news relating to the high quality of the water around our popular Vale beaches, and has submitted Blue Flag applications in respect of Southerndown, which already has that status, and Whitmore Bay.

"We are confident, especially with this year's water quality pass for Whitmore Bay.

"We will do everything we can to ensure that the beaches are given the best chance of gaining Blue Flag status."