Natural England Conservation Advice for Marine Protected Areas
Coquet Island SPA

Natural England guidance

This site collection contains Natural England’s conservation advice for this site. It fulfils Natural England’s responsibility under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended), 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.

Natural England'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

Site name: Coquet Island SPA
Designation type: SPA
Site identification: UK9006031
Latest classification date: 29 January 2017
Qualifying features
(click to see site specific description):

General information on the site features:
You can find generic information on the qualifying species from the following websites: The generic information on the supporting habitats for the qualifying features is useful for understanding the qualifying features, and should be used in conjunction with the site specific information.
Designated area (ha): 19.91
Moderation/boundary changes: The site was classified on 17 July 1985. On 29 January 2017 the site was amended to include a seabird assemblage.
Component Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI):
Overlapping Protected Areas:

Last updated: 15th March 2019

Background information and geography

Coquet Island is a small uninhabited island which lies less than a mile off the coast of Northumberland, near Amble, in the north east of England. The island is managed by the RSPB and consists of a flat grassy plateau, surrounded by low sandstone cliffs and intertidal boulders and rock. The total area of the island at mean low water is 22 ha.

Coquet Island SPA was first classified in 1985 for its breeding seabirds, several of which occur at nationally important numbers. The SPA is classified for the protection of roseate tern (Sterna dougallii), common tern (Sterna hirundo), Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis), Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) and a breeding seabird assemblage of over 20,000 individuals. The main components of the seabird assemblage includes the features above, and Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) and the black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus). Additional assemblage components include: northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), herring gull (Larus argentatus), lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus) and the black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) (Natural England (NE), 2015).

The SPA provides important nesting sites for multiple tern species and the breeding seabird assemblage. The RSPB manage the site to increase the breeding success of these species. The island nature of the site allows the RSPB to manage nest predation by mammalian and avian predators, as well as reducing disturbance by not allowing visitors and tour boats to land on the island (Davies and Morrison, 2011). Tern nesting boxes have been installed to help provide terns with suitable breeding habitats (Morrison and Gurney, 2007). This helps to create an excellent breeding site for the tern species, which is demonstrated by the island hosting the most successful roseate tern breeding population in Britain.

The island is surrounded by the Northumberland Marine SPA, which protects the foraging areas for the tern species and the breeding seabird assemblage. The Coquet to St Mary’s MCZ, designated for subtidal and intertidal benthic habitats, also surrounds the island. The site shares features with the nearby Northumbria Coast SPA, Lindisfarne SPA and the Farne Islands SPA.

The Northumberland coast and surrounding sea supports important breeding colonies of seabirds and auks, protected at four existing SPAs: Farne Islands SPA, Coquet Island SPA, Lindisfarne SPA and Northumbria Coast SPA. The surrounding waters are protected by Northumberland Marine SPA, these areas are used by the seabirds and auks for foraging and maintenance activities, such as bathing and preening.

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 aims of the Wild Birds Directive, by maintaining or restoring:
  • the extent and distribution of the habitats of the qualifying features
  • the structure and function of the habitats of the qualifying features
  • the supporting processes on which the habitats of the qualifying features rely
  • the populations of each of the qualifying features
  • the distribution of qualifying features 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 September 2019

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: 16th March 2018

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.

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.

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: