A number of consultations launched in January 2016 for new Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) – for harbour porpoises – as well as changes to a number of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) – for seabirds – in English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters.

The Scottish Government has delayed similar proposals for harbour porpoises in Scottish waters.  

SACs and SPAs are designated under European directives but decisions on whether to designate them in UK waters are made by UK Ministers, based on relevant scientific considerations.

In contrast to the MCZ process, under EU law economic and social considerations cannot be taken into account by Ministers in deciding whether to designate SACs and SPAs, but these considerations can be used to inform future decisions about the way in which the sites are managed.  

SACs around the UK

Five new SACs have been proposed to protect harbour porpoises.

Due to existing management through adherence to voluntary wildlife codes of conduct, the Government has stated that no further management of recreational boating activities is likely to be required.  

For details and to respond visit: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/SACconsultation

Consultation closes: midnight on 3 May 2016    

SPAs in England

Natural England is seeking views on changes to the boundaries and seabird species protected in a number of SPAs. These sites are Hamford Water, Outer Thames Estuary, Morecambe Bay & Duddon Estuary, Northumbria Coast, Coquet Island, Farne Islands and Poole Harbour.

No additional management of recreational boating activity is proposed.  

Two entirely new SPAs have also been proposed: the Northumberland Marine pSPA and the Solent and Dorset Coast pSPA.  

For details and to respond visit: www.gov.uk/natural-england and search for the site by name.

Consultation closes: midnight on 3 May 2016    

SPAs in Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is consulting on SPAs, which protect a variety of seabirds in Welsh waters, including Northern Cardigan Bay, Anglesey and Skomer, Skokholm & Seas off Pembrokeshire.  

Voluntary codes of conduct already exist to reduce the impact of recreational activities on these sites and NRW has stated it is unlikely that any additional management would be required for recreational boating.  

For details and to respond visit: www.naturalresources.wales/mn2k

Consultation closes: midnight on 3 May 2016    

SPAs in Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish Government is consulting on two proposals for sites in Northern Irish Waters: an extension of Carlingford Lough SPA and a new East Coast (Northern Ireland) Marine SPA.  

In both sites, it is believed sensitive areas are at risk from disturbance, especially from personal watercraft, and codes of conduct, zoning and the use of byelaws have been proposed where thought necessary.  

For details and to respond visit: https://www.doeni.gov.uk/consultations

Consultation closes:  midnight on 3 May 2016    

The RYA supports the assessment that existing voluntary initiatives are already providing the appropriate level of protection.

We will continue to examine the assessment of the likely economic, environmental and social impacts of the designation of each site and encourage all interested parties to respond to the public consultations.