Policy paper

Defra response to the independent review of the evidence process for selecting marine special areas of conservation (SACs)

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

Defra is reviewing its operating model and we will ensure that resulting guidance and processes take into consideration the review recommendations.



In March 2011, following concerns expressed by stakeholders about the robustness and integrity of the process to designate some marine Special Areas of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Bob Watson FRS, commissioned an independent review of the process that Natural England (previously English Nature) and Defra used to select the three case study areas for designation as marine SACs.

The review has now been completed. It concluded that the evidence underpinning selection of three case study marine SACs is sufficient to support the proposed designation of the sites as SACs, in the light of the requirements of the Habitats Directive. However, it raised some concerns about aspects of the processes which Natural England and Defra followed and made a number of recommendations for the future. These are being considered by Defra and Natural England.

Members of the Review Team were: Dr Ian Graham-Bryce FRSE CBE (Chair); Professor Andrew Pullin, Dr Steve Widdicombe and Dr Ann Davies (consultant, In House Policy Resource) with a secretariat provided by Defra.

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