7 September 2018. Bizkaia has renewed the quality and environmental management certificates already held by 15 of its 28 beaches. In its annual audit, after the modifications made to meet the new requirements established by the standards governing the UNE-EN ISO 9001:2015 and UNE-EN ISO 14001:2015 certificates, AENOR came to the conclusion that the sandy areas of La Arena, Ereaga, Arrigunaga, Arriatera-Atxabiribil, Plentzia, Gorliz, Bakio, Aritzatxu, Laida, Laga, Ea, Ogella, Isuntza, Karraspio and Arrigorri deserve these certificates. In acknowledgement of the work carried out in recent years by the Provincial Council of Biscay as part of the global beach management system and by the town halls in the municipalities where the latter are located, an award ceremony for the certificates was held today in Bilbao.
The event was attended by Luz Emparanza, AENOR's Basque Country Director and Unai Gangoiti, Environmental Director of the Biscay Provincial Council. The latter has emphasized that "our goal has always been to provide quality services to citizens and ensure a more respectful use of our beaches, which are naturally unspolilt environments. We have pursued this objective by applying a model - the international ISO 9001 and 14001 standard - with a work methodology that continually improves management and covers all activities linked to the management of sandy areas. From the time we adopted this system until now, a lot of progress has been made. And I wish to thank all the entities and people who have made this work possible.
The implementation and development of the integral management system applied for achieving and maintaining the certifications is aimed at a more respectful use of the natural environment that makes up the coastline in Biscay and allows all users to enjoy better quality beaches. As such, this system includes the implementation of programmes aimed at providing higher quality services and reducing the environmental impacts suffered by beaches as a result of their use as a leisure space by more than 2 million people. This system therefore caters for all activities carried out, such as health control, sandy area surveillance, its equipment, the fostering of cultural and informational activities and their control, better access and the setting-up of specific services for people with disabilities or the development of regulations on the use of beaches, establishing similar requirements for all of them.
Implementation over time
The process to obtain the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 quality and environmental management certificates in our region's sandy areas began in June 2001, when the then Environmental Department of the Biscay Provincial Council and the Basque Government's Health Department, together with the Biscay Rescue and First Aid Federation, the BBK Social Work and the Biscayan coastal municipalities, signed the Biscay beaches' Management and Quality Framework Agreement.
As a result of this agreement, the signatory institutions and entities created a Global Management System that initially began in five sandy areas (Bakio, La Arena, Laga, Laida and Karraspio) and has subsequently been extended, in order to provide citizens with quality services while still guaranteeing the protection of the natural space where they are offered.
To this end, the international quality standards ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 have been used as a model, introducing a methodology focussed on continuous management improvement.
The implementation of these management systems has resulted in the installation of solar panels on the beaches as a renewable energy source for the public address system belonging to the Emergency Response and Accident Prevention Service and Eco flow reducers in public services, fountains and showers on the beaches to minimise water consumption.
Similarly, special emphasis has been placed on the adoption of measures to minimise waste generation and carry out selective waste collection, whether caused by users or left by tides.