Description

Activities include kite karting, coasteering, wildlife watching, dog walking, horse riding, walkers, watersports.

Key locations

Across the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast.  Favoured areas for water-based activities include St Abbs, Eyemouth, Farne Islands, Seahouses, Budle Bay, Holy Island and Beadnell Bay. Land-based activities occur on most easily accessible beaches within the site.

Frequency

Continuous, with increased activity in summer months

Potential issues

  • Noise and visual disturbance to seals and birds, disturbance to intertidal rocky shore from movement of boulders/cobbles/seaweeds, trampling of other intertidal habitats

Features of Marine Protected Areas which might be affected

  • Reefs
  • Sand and mud flats
  • Inlets and bays
  • Grey seal
  • Birds (wintering and breeding)

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (England)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
SSSI Consent, Assent or  Advice

 

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) (Section 28) Natural England
NNR bylaws making powers National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (Section 20) Natural England
Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of impacts

 

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (Regulation 63) All Competent or Responsible Authorities as defined by the Regulation.

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (England)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
Managing marine recreational activities: a review of evidence (NECR242) Review of evidence on impacts of recreational activities on MPA features. Outputs include a Management Toolkit and evidence briefing notes Natural England/MMO Non-Statutory
You, Your Canoe, and the Marine Environment Code of Conduct for canoe users British Canoeing Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (England)

Regulation and Enforcement:

The majority of intertidal land within the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast are notified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Owners or occupiers of SSSI land may require consent from Natural England to undertake or allow certain ongoing activities, including those related to recreational activities. A Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) would need to be carried out prior to any consent being granted on a SAC or SPA.

Some of the bird species found breeding on the Northumberland coast, such as little tern and roseate tern, are listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). These ‘Schedule 1 species’ have a stronger level of protection compared to most other wild birds. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a Schedule 1 species while it is nest building or is in, on or near a nest with eggs or young.

All species of cetacean are given protection under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This legislation makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb or harass a cetacean.

For more information about the legal protection given to marine species please see our guidance note on Marine Wildlife and the Law.

A number of beaches have seasonal restrictions on dog walking in place. These are usually for public health reasons but can also act to prevent disturbance to birds and other wildlife.

Advice and education:

The Green Blue, an environmental programme created by the British Marine Federation (BMF) and Royal Yachting Association (RYA), helps boat users, boating businesses, sailing clubs and training centres to reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters. The Northumberland coast is a focus area for the programme and they will be working with user groups and marinas to make them aware of potential impacts on marine protected areas. https://www.thegreenblue.org.uk/

British Canoeing works nationally to promote sustainable paddling and has produced a guided on the issue called You, Your Canoe, and the Marine Environment which can be promoted to local users.

The Northumberland Coast AONB have produced a leaflet ‘Taking Your Dog to the Coast’ http://www.northumberlandcoastaonb.org/files/Downloads/Dog_Leaflet.pdf

Natural England and the MMO have commissioned a Management Toolkit which provides examples of existing management measures applicable to marine recreational activities and case studies regarding the effectiveness of such measures with regard to minimising environmental impacts.

Codes of Conducts:

A variety of voluntary Codes of Conduct exist covering a range of activities and geographies. These aim to minimise impacts from recreational activities and raise awareness of specific issues but can be difficult to promote or enforce. A list of relevant local and national codes of conduct can been found at this link. Current Codes of Conduct include:

  • The Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership’s Wildlife Watching Code of Conduct, which is available to download on our website and which has previously been promoted to charter boat companies
  • Codes of Conduct from the Northumberland Coast AONB covering activities including coasteering, horse-riding, diving and powered watercraft

Access Restrictions:

Zonation can be used to restrict the locations which activities take place. This is often underpinned by voluntary codes of conduct or bylaws. Within Northumberland, the Lindisfarne NNR has bylaws which restrict boat use to a designated water sports area. The NNR bylaws restrict the entry of boats into part of the reserve between 1 April (or Good Friday if earlier) and 31 October.

In practical terms, the restricted number of access points to water in Berwickshire and Northumberland tends to act as a limit on the number of watercraft using the coast.

Drone flight on National Trust property is not permitted https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/flying-drones-at-our-places

Wardening:

A wardening presence can provide an opportunity to enforce local bylaws or restrictions but also provide an opportunity to proactively engage with the public and provide information about the impacts that their activities may be having.

Fencing and seasonal wardening is used at bird nesting sites such as the tern colonies at Long Nanny and at Lindisfarne NNR to separate visitors from sensitive areas and to make them aware of their potential impacts.

Research:

Natural England has commissioned research from the University of Newcastle looking at key areas for recreational activities along the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast. The MMO is also currently undertaking an exercise to better understand the extent and impacts of non-licensable activities (including recreational activities) on the coast.

Gaps in Management (England)

There are still gaps in our knowledge about the levels and locations of some recreational activities and the impacts that these have on marine protected areas. More data collection and assessment is needed. It is not clear how well current Codes of Conduct are known about or adhered to by their intended audience. The plethora of Codes of Conduct available is potentially confusing. Work is needed to consolidate these into a simple set of messages for the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast.

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (Scotland)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Power, Duty or Regulatory Tool Relevant Legislation Lead Organisation
SSSI Consent or Advice

 

Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (Sections 13-17) Scottish Natural Heritage
Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of impacts

 

The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (Regulation 48) All Competent or Responsible Authorities as defined by the Regulation.
Designation of protected seal haul out areas The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Part 6) Marine Scotland

Relevant Guidance, Plans or Codes (Scotland)

The following guidance, codes, plans or strategies are also relevant to the management of this activity:

Name Description Responsible Organisation Statutory or Non-Statutory?
Guidance on the Offence of Harassment at Seal Haul-out Sites (June 2014) Guidance on Part 6 of The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 about the offence of seal harassment Marine Scotland Non-Statutory
You, Your Canoe, and the Marine Environment Code of Conduct for canoe users British Canoeing Non-Statutory

Details of Current Management (Scotland)

Regulation and Enforcement:

The majority of intertidal land within the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast are notified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Owners or occupiers of SSSI land may require consent from SNH to undertake or allow certain ongoing activities, including those related to recreational activities. A Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) would need to be carried out prior to any consent being granted on a SAC or SPA.

It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly harass seals at significant haul-out sites under the Protection of Seals (Designation of Haul-out Sites) (Scotland) Order 2014. One of the designated seal haul-out sites is located between Dunbar and Eyemouth.

All species of cetacean are given protection under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. This legislation makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb or harass a cetacean.

For more information about the legal protection given to marine species please see our guidance note on Marine Wildlife and the Law.

Advice and education:

The Green Blue, an environmental programme created by the British Marine Federation (BMF) and Royal Yachting Association (RYA), helps boat users, boating businesses, sailing clubs and training centres to reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters.. https://www.thegreenblue.org.uk/

British Canoeing works nationally to promote sustainable paddling and has produced a guided on the issue called You, Your Canoe, and the Marine Environment which can be promoted to local users.

Natural England and the MMO have commissioned a Management Toolkit which provides examples of existing management measures applicable to marine recreational activities and case studies regarding the effectiveness of such measures with regard to minimising environmental impacts.  While the evidenced gathered was from England the potential management mechanism identified are also potentially relevant to Scotland.

Codes of Conducts:

A variety of voluntary Codes of Conduct exist covering a range of activities and geographies. These aim to minimise impacts from recreational activities and raise awareness of specific issues but can be difficult to promote or enforce. A list of relevant local and national codes of conduct can been found at this link. Current Codes of Conduct include:

  • The Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership’s Wildlife Watching Code of Conduct, which is available to download on our website and which has previously been promoted to charter boat companies
  • The St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve Code of Conduct, which is soon to be updated
  • The Scottish Outdoor Access Code
  • The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Codes which has been produced by the Scottish Government.

Access Restrictions:

Zonation can be used to restrict the locations which activities take place. This is often underpinned by voluntary codes of conduct or bylaws.

In practical terms, the restricted number of access points to water tends to act as a limit on the number of watercraft using the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast.

No jet-skis are allowed in Eyemouth harbour.

Drone flight on the St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve requires prior permission from the Property Manager, which must be sought well in advance. No drones will be allowed anywhere on the reserve during the bird breeding season (1st April – 31st July) and in certain areas during the seal breeding season (15th October – 15th January).

Wardening:

A wardening presence can provide an opportunity to enforce local bylaws or restrictions but also provide an opportunity to proactively engage with the public and provide information about the impacts that their activities may be having.

Research:

Natural England has commissioned research from the University of Newcastle looking at key areas for recreational activities along the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast, up to Fast Castle Head

Gaps in Management (Scotland)

There are still gaps in our knowledge about the levels and locations of some recreational activities and the impacts that these have on marine protected areas. More data collection and assessment is needed. It is not clear how well current Codes of Conduct are known about or adhered to by their intended audience. The plethora of Codes of Conduct available is potentially confusing. Work is needed to consolidate these into a simple set of messages for the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast.