Press release

Fifteen new areas to give protection to UK seas

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Fifteen new Marine Protected Areas were created today, designed to protect important habitats and species. The UK Government has submitted …

Fifteen new Marine Protected Areas were created today, designed to protect important habitats and species.

The UK Government has submitted the sites to the European Commission to be included within the European ‘Natura 2000’ network of protected areas.

The sites which were selected on the basis of the best scientific evidence available, have undergone a rigorous and transparent assessment and will bring protection to habitats including reefs, sea caves and sandbanks, where marine life thrives. Sandbanks act as nursery grounds for many commercial fish species such as plaice and sole whilst also supporting sand eel communities that are a food source for seabirds and mammals such as seals. Reefs support a colourful array of sponges, sea squirts and corals that provide shelter for crabs, lobsters and fish such as the multi-coloured cuckoo wrasse. Birds will also benefit, with sites selected for the conservation of the red-throated diver and common scoter.

Marine Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, said:
“Our seas are home to some of the most diverse species and habitats in the world and they need just as much protection as our land. Today is a major step forward in helping us to achieve clean, healthy and vibrant seas where marine life can thrive.

Working hand-in-hand with the creation of Marine Conservation Zones, created under the groundbreaking Marine and Coastal Access Act, these sites will make a major contribution to the delivery of an ecological network of Marine Protected Areas by 2012.”

Two consultations also start today for sites at the Dogger Bank in the North Sea and proposed new boundaries for Lune Deep and Prawle Point to Start Point. The Dogger Bank is not only an important sandbank habitat but is also a key area for the UK meeting its renewable energy target by 2020. The identification of the Dogger Bank as both a conservation site and an area for windfarm development illustrates the compatibility that can exist between energy development and nature conservation. The consultations will close on 12th November 2010.


The new candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are:

  • Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge
  • North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef
  • Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton
  • Margate and Long Sands
  • Bassurelle Sandbank
  • Lyme Bay and Torbay
  • Prawle Point to Plymouth Sound and Eddystone
  • Lizard Point
  • Land’s End and Cape Bank
  • Shell Flat
  • Red Bay
  • North-West Rockall Bank
  • Wyville Thomson Ridge

The new Special Protection Areas (for birds) are:

  • Outer Thames Estuary
  • Liverpool Bay/Bae Lerpwl (agreed with the Welsh Assembly Government)

The two possible SACs subject to another consultation by Natural England are:

  • Lune Deep
  • Prawle Point to Start Point

The possible SAC being consulted upon by JNCC is:

  • Dogger Bank

Further information on the Natura 2000 sites, new sites and the consultations may be found on: and

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs):
MCZs are a new national designation as proposed in the new Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. MCZs will be designated to protect nationally important and representative habitats and species and, together with the Natura 2000 sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Ramsar sites and new national MPAs in Scotland and Northern Ireland will create our MPA network. MCZs in English inshore and English, Welsh and Northern Irish offshore waters will be identified through a different process to the Natura 2000 sites. Recommendations are proposed to be made to Government by October 2011. More information about MCZs and MPA projects in Scotland and Wales may be found on:
Welsh Assembly Government website

For more information, maps and photographs of marine species please contact:

Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Martin Deller, Senior Press Officer
T: 020 7238 5391

Natural England
Michelle Hawkins, Press Officer
T: 0300 060 1109 / 07775 585 935

Welsh Assembly Government
For press enquiries:
Lynsey May on 029 2089 8329, or
Steve Robbins on 029 2089 8665, or
Anna Miller on 029 2089 8905.

Countryside Council for Wales / Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru
Helen Evans, Senior Press Officer
T: 01248 387377

Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC): for UK offshore waters including Dogger Bank
Communications Team, JNCC
T: 01733 866886

Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland)
All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 9054 0003. Out of hours, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

New UK Candidate and Possible SAC's and new SPA's