Formal consultation starts on proposed European marine sites

A formal consultation on 12 proposed new marine conservation sites starts today (27 Nov 2009).  The sites are being put forward as the latest additions to the ‘Natura 2000’ network of European protected areas designed to protect important habitats, species and birds.

The 12 proposed new sites consist of 10 possible Special Areas of Conservation (pSACs) and two potential Special Protection Areas (pSPAs) which incorporate a range of important habitats and species – from the sandbanks of the Outer Wash and southern North Sea to areas in the Irish Sea that are important for birds, and to the cold water coral reefs off north-west Scotland. 

Natural England, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Countryside Council for Wales are asking consultees to comment on the scientific reasons for proposing the sites, and on the assessment of the likely impacts of the site designation on marine industries such as fishing, recreation, sand and gravel extraction, windfarms and the oil and gas industry.

If approved, the new sites would treble the existing marine areas within the SAC/SPA designation in England.

Dr. Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “The Natura 2000 network of marine protected areas is a vital way of ensuring that our most important marine habitats and bird species are effectively protected.  The consultation on the proposed new sites will create significant opportunities to promote understanding of our precious marine undersea landscapes, to share information to help refine the evidence for the proposed sites, and to work together with all users of the marine environment to develop future management measures.”

Marcus Yeo, Managing Director of JNCC, said: “This consultation process gives us the chance to ensure that all relevant information has been considered in our recommendations. This will help these sites to be recognised as ones that fully deserve their high profile and consequent protection.”

UK Fisheries Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “
The sites to be consulted on have been identified to protect habitats and species of national and European importance. In conjunction with Marine Conservation Zones, established under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, these sites will contribute to delivering an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas. Feedback is important and will help shape our final proposals to the European Commission in 2010.”

Following this formal consultation process, site proposals will be submitted to Government, and Ministers will decide which site recommendations to submit to the European Commission in August 2010.


All information on the English and joint sites, including proposed boundary maps, can be found on Natural England’s web site:

To comment formally on the proposals for the English and joint sites, write to:
[email protected]

Formal comments on the proposals for Liverpool Bay/Bae Lerpwl pSPA may also be sent in Welsh or English to the Countryside Council for Wales at:  [email protected]

b)  All information on the two fully offshore sites (Bassurelle Sandbank and North-West Rockall Bank) can be found on JNCC’s web site:

To comment formally on the proposal for the two fully offshore sites, write to:
[email protected]

The consultation runs for three months from 27 November 2009 to 26 February 2010.


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