(10 October 2012) A proposed Special Protection Area for Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay
(5 September 2012) Studland to Portland becomes cSAC
Natural England works as the Government’s statutory advisor to identify and propose:
sites of particular importance for seabirds for designation around the coast of England as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to meet the requirements of the European Birds Directive, and
examples of marine habitats in inshore waters (0 – 12 nautical miles) around the coast of England for designation as marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to meet the requirements of the European Habitats Directive.
The Habitats and Birds Directives together provide for the creation of a network of protected areas for important or threatened wildlife habitats and species across the European Union to be known as ‘Natura 2000’.
This section sets out developing proposals for identification, consultation and classification of new marine SPAs in English inshore waters. For further information see Establishing marine Special Protection Areas (TIN120).
The suite of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) on English land is well-established but further work is required to complete a network at sea, in order to safeguard the internationally important populations of breeding, migrating and wintering birds that use the marine environment. In English inshore waters two entirely marine SPAs have been classified so far (Outer Thames Estuary and Liverpool Bay). The UK government has committed to identifying a network of SPAs in the marine environment by 2015 to fulfil its obligations under the Birds Directive.
Natural England is responsible for recommending potential SPAs in English waters (out to 12 nautical miles) to Defra for classification, taking scientific advice from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).
Once Natural England has developed site recommendations, the SPA classification process has three main stages – informal dialogue with stakeholders, the formal consultation process, and then Defra’s decision on classification.
Over the last decade, JNCC has carried out and commissioned a range of surveys and analyses to provide a robust scientific evidence base for the identification and classification of SPAs. The evidence base has been or will be subject to an appropriate level of external peer review.
Natural England’s proposals for new sites include extensions to existing breeding colony SPAs into adjacent marine areas, sites to protect aggregations of non-breeding waterbirds, protection of offshore areas used mainly for feeding seabirds, and other areas for specific species including terns, European shag and Balearic shearwater. For further information about the species we are seeking to protects see our series of SPA Technical Information Notes.
Natural England will engage stakeholders at two main stages, firstly at the informal dialogue stage after initial boundaries have been developed, and then secondly through a formal public consultation. Stakeholders will have the chance to discuss and respond to the scientific case for classification and to provide their own data, and also to provide information on the potential effects that classifying an area as SPA might have on them, which will help to inform the associated socio-economic Impact Assessment.
Once SPAs are classified, Natural England provides advice to the authorities responsible for managing the SPA regarding its conservation objectives, and operations which may cause deterioration of its features. A range of authorities are responsible for ensuring that SPAs are managed appropriately, including the Marine Management Organisation, Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities, the Environment Agency and local councils. Natural England itself is not responsible for the regulation of activities or implementation of management measures within designated sites.
Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) protect habitats and non-bird species. As with SACs and in contrast to MCZs, SPA site selection must be based solely on scientific evidence. Socio-economic considerations cannot be taken into account when identifying the features or boundary of the site.
SPAs, MCZs and SACs, along with Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Ramsar Sites collectively contribute to a network of Marine Protected Areas: (198kb).
SACs are areas which have been given special protection under the European Union’s (EU) Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC). They provide increased protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world’s biodiversity.
A site becomes known as a candidate SAC (cSAC) when it is submitted to the European Commission. Candidate SACs are subject to full protection under the Habitats Directive (transposed through The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010).
There are 8 marine cSACs in English inshore waters;
For further information on these sites see Marine SPAs and SACs submitted to the European Commission August 2010.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) website provides further background information.
For further enquiries concerning the Natura 2000 consultation please contact Natura2000.firstname.lastname@example.org
It is the duty of Natural England to produce conservation advice packages for European marine sites (EMS) within 0-12 nm in English territorial waters (referred to as ‘inshore sites’), as set out under Regulation 35 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
The conservation advice package delivers the following:
Advises relevant authorities on the conservation objectives for the site and provides them with a clear indication of the operations that may cause deterioration and/or disturbance. This will assist them in complying with the requirements of articles 6.2 and 6.3 of the Habitats Directive when it comes to assessing the likely impacts of an activity that they regulate (e.g. when undertaking “Habitats Regulation Assessment”);
Helps relevant authorities understand the international importance of the site, as well as the ecological requirements of the habitats and species designated, and the physical processes that support them;
Establishes the framework against which the condition of the site’s interest features can be assessed.
Provides the basis for discussions regarding the development of a management scheme (Regulation 36) if deemed necessary.
R35 conservation advice packages are available for each of the new Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Packages for the existing European Marine Sites are currently under review.
An independent review of Natural England’s marine SAC selection process carried out in 2011 made a number of recommendations as to how Defra and Natural England should modify their approach to future evidence based work. This resulted in Natural England adopting the Government Chief Scientific Adviser’s (GCSA) guidelines on using evidence, through the development of a suite of Evidence Standards. Implementation of these standards has included Natural England working with JNCC to develop an independently expert reviewed protocol: (558kb) setting out the processes and requirements for the development of conservation advice packages, to ensure that these fully comply with the GCSA’s guidelines.