Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage Conservation Advice for Marine Protected Areas
Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC

Natural England and SNH guidance

This site collection contains Natural England’s and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)'s conservation advice for this site. It fulfils Natural England’s responsibility under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) and SNH's responsibility under Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 to give advice on how to further the conservation objectives for the site, identify the activities that are capable of affecting the qualifying features and the processes which they are dependent upon. The advice reflects the views of both Natural England and SNH.

Natural England's and SNH's conservation advice for this site is made up of a number of components. You will need to consider: Additional information for consideration:

Site information

Overarching site: Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site
Site name: Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC
Designation type: SAC
Site identification: UK0017072
Latest designation date: 1 April 2005
Qualifying features
(click to see site specific description):

General information on the site features:
The generic information on the qualifying features is useful for understanding the qualifying features, and should be used in conjunction with the site specific information.
Designated area (ha): 65334.94
Moderation/boundary changes:

English area designated on 1 April 2005

Scottish area designated on 17th March 2005

Component Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI):
Overlapping Protected Areas:
Component SSSIs / overlapping protected areas outside of England: Berwickshire Coast (Intertidal) SSSI
Burnmouth Coast SSSI
Outer Firth of Forth and St Andrews Bay Complex pSPA
St Abb's Head to Fast Castle SPA
St Abb's Head to Fast Castle SSSI

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Background information and geography

The Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC is one of the most varied coastlines in the UK, stretching from Alnmouth to north of St Abbs head and encompassing other European sites such as Lindisfarne SPA, the Farne Islands SPA, Northumberland Marine SPA, the Tweed Estuary SAC, St Abb's Head to Fast Castle SPA, Outer Firth of Forth & St Andrews Bay Complex pSPA and Berwickshire Marine Reserve which has been in place and locally managed since 1984. It contains a complex mix of marine habitats, associated species and communities which is unusually diverse for the North Sea, in both a UK and European context. The site contributes to an important range and variation of intertidal mudflats and sandflats and has one of the best examples of east coast clean sand and seagrass beds, and of moderately exposed reefs. Intertidal and submerged sea caves also contribute significantly to the site’s overall habitat diversity and international importance.

The Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC also provides important habitats for the grey seal, supporting approximately 3% of the British annual pup production. Breeding, hauling out and moulting occurs on habitats above the Highest Astronomical Tide in areas such as Staple Island within the Farne Islands. A large number of seals also haul out around Holy Island sands, Lindisfarne. No breeding has been recorded here to date.

Site maps

Use the MAGIC website to see site maps, including habitats, species and other marine designations.

These maps are based on best available evidence, there are some caveats associated with the maps on MAGIC.

Conservation objectives

The site’s conservation objectives apply to the site and the individual species and/or assemblage of species for which the site has been classified (the "Qualifying features" listed above).

The objectives are to ensure that, subject to natural change, the integrity of the site is maintained or restored as appropriate, and that the site contributes to achieving the Favourable Conservation Status of its qualifying features, by maintaining or restoring:
  • the extent and distribution of qualifying natural habitats and habitats of the qualifying species
  • the structure and function (including typical species) of qualifying natural habitats
  • the structure and function of the habitats of the qualifying species
  • the supporting processes on which qualifying natural habitats and the habitats of qualifying species rely
  • the populations of each of the qualifying species
  • the distribution of qualifying species within the site

Qualifying features

Refer to the site information table above for the list of features within this site.

This should be read in conjunction with the accompanying supplementary advice section, which provides more detailed information to help achieve the objectives set out above, including which attributes should be maintained and which restored.

The conservation objectives apply under the Habitats Regulations, and must be considered during a Habitats Regulation Assessment, including an Appropriate Assessment.

The conservation objectives and accompanying supplementary advice provide a framework to inform the management and measures needed to conserve or restore the European site, and the prevention of deterioration and significant disturbance of its qualifying features.

Where the objectives are met, the site will be considered to show a high level of integrity, and to be contributing to achieving the aims of the Habitats Regulations.

Supplementary Advice on Conservation Objectives

See supplementary advice on conservation objectives for this site, which aim to describe the range of ecological attributes that are most likely to contribute to a site’s overall integrity.

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Advice on Operations

See the advice on operations for this site to view information on the sensitivity of features in this site to the pressures exerted by different activities.

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Advice on Seasonality

See the advice on seasonality for this site, to view the months in which each mobile feature occurs in this site.

Last updated: 13th September 2019

Feature Condition

In 2016, Natural England trialled and rolled out a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) condition assessment methodology that provides robust results and information on the condition of marine features designated within MPAs in England. With guidance from National teams and using all available evidence and condition monitoring data, Area Teams conduct these assessments following a standardised approach that assesses if the feature and sub feature conservation targets set for each MPA have been met.

To date, condition assessments have been completed for a number of features in a range of marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) by the National and Area Teams. Further marine habitat features in SACs and other MPAs will continue to be assessed in the future. The new method can now also be applied to complete habitat and species condition assessments for other MPAs in England, whilst still meeting the different processes in place to report on the results of condition of features in Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Different processes are currently in place to decide and report on the condition of non-marine habitat and species features of SACs.

The main part of the assessment process is directly undertaken and stored here on Natural England’s Designated Sites View. The details for the most recent assessments of this site can be found here.

Please note: This site is located within both English territorial waters and Scottish territorial waters. Natural England’s standardised condition assessment method applies to the features which are entirely in England and are reported on Natural England’s Designated Sites System. Condition monitoring data or other evidence sources used to make this assessment are referenced on the condition assessment pages when complete. For information on feature condition assessment and condition monitoring for features within Scotland please see here.

Management measures

If you are carrying out an environmental assessment, planning an operation or assessing an operation or proposal, it is important to consult with the following organisations where applicable. To find out if any management measures, byelaws or other restrictions apply to your activity see the management measure page or you can use the following links for more information.

The Marine Management Organisation license, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England and Wales so that they’re carried out in a sustainable way.
Environment Agency are responsible for regulating major industry and waste, water quality and resources, fisheries, inland river, estuary and harbour navigations, conservation and ecology.
Offshore Petroleum Regulator for the Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) regulates oil and gas, CCS and gas storage activities in the marine environment.
Marine Scotland are responsible for the integrated management of Scotlands seas with a role in licencing, planning and fisheries management and compliance.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are responsible for regulating major industry and waste, water quality and resources.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) manage requests for consents to carry out specific operations within the intertidal parts of the site that are SSSI.

Further information

For further information relating to this designated site you can refer to the following resources:
Site specific information: Other information:
For further information about this site contact: Natural England enquiries Telephone: 0300 060 3900. Email:

Scottish Natural Heritage enquiries on 01463 725000 or use the online enquiries service at