Corporate report

Natural England designations programme for areas, sites and trails

Find out which areas, sites and trails Natural England is considering for special protection.

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This document shows the areas, sites and trails that Natural England is considering in its designations programme. Inclusion in the programme is not a commitment to designate.

The designations programme considers whether places are suitable to become:

  • National Parks
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Natura 2000 sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas)
  • Ramsar sites
  • Marine Conservation Zones
  • National Nature Reserves (NNRs)
  • National Trails

When the formal process begins on a case it’s taken off the designations programme list at the next planned update, for example when:

  • notifying an SSSI
  • declaring an NNR
  • launching a formal consultation, such as a potential Special Protection Area (pSPA)

Information about cases in the formal process are available from:

Find out more about the designations programme in Natural England’s designation strategy.

Designated areas, sites and trails are mostly privately owned. Natural England works closely with landowners and other stakeholders:

  • when assessing whether a place is nationally important
  • following designation to support continued high quality management

Designated places represent England’s finest landscapes and very best wildlife and geological sites on land and in the sea. They:

  • provide opportunities for people to experience and enjoy some of our most spectacular and beautiful land and seascapes
  • safeguard vital elements of our natural and cultural heritage
  • provide people with essential services like clean water, climate regulation, beautiful places for recreation, and opportunities to learn about nature
  • are parts of living and functional landscapes, continuing to adapt and change within this wider context
  • form a national asset

These functions of designated places help to put Natural England’s and the government’s plans into action. These include:

Published 13 April 2016
Last updated 7 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. Natural England's designations programme for 2018.
  2. First published.