Map of Interest Features

The boundary map for this site can be downloaded from  HERE

Boundary maps of all English marine protected areas can be downloaded  as Shapefiles at this link  This download includes the Scottish section of the Berwickshire and Northumberland Coast SAC

Habitat mapping for the site is  available from the MAGIC website and from the following sources:

A map showing key locations of for the interest features of the site can also be downloaded here

Description of the Interest Features and their Current Condition

The site is a Special Area of Conservation designated in April 2005.

The site is notified for the following features:

Further details of these interest features can be found in the Conservation Advice package for this site.

The reefs within the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC are some of the most diverse in the North Sea. They include areas of intertidal rocky shore, areas of cobbles, vertical rock walls, horizontal ledges, areas of broken bedrock and boulder fields. The majority of reefs are found in the subtidal zone below the low water mark.

The English section of the SAC has several characteristic, sandy bays including Budle Bay, Beadnell Bay and Embleton Bay. These beaches are relatively exposed, fairly uniform in nature and support many marine invertebrates.

Sea caves are found throughout the SAC but are more dominant in the northern section. They are associated with areas of reef and include tunnels or caverns in the intertidal and subtidal zones. Caves vary in size from only a few metres to more extensive systems which may extend hundreds of metres into the rock. They are typically colonised by encrusting animals but can also support shade-tolerant algae near the entrance.

Areas of intertidal sand and mud flats are submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide. The English section of the site contains extensive and biologically diverse sand and mud flats. Fenham Flats, Ross Sands, Budle Bay and the coast adjacent to the north of Holy Island form the most extensive area of intertidal sand and mud in North East England. They support one of the largest intertidal beds of narrow-leaved seagrass (Zostera angustifolia) and dwarf seagrass (Zostera noltii) on the east coast of the UK. There is also a diverse collection of animals living within the sediment, with large beds of the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) on the surface. Many of the bays along the open coast consist of fairly mobile sand that supports communities of small crustaceans and marine worms.

There are two major grey seal breeding groups within the SAC, found at Fast Castle Head in Scotland and the Farne Islands in Northumberland. The Berwickshire and Northumberland coast are also used regularly by grey seals outside of the breeding period for moulting and resting and include some of the largest haul-out sites for seals on the East coast.

The full condition of the MPA has yet to be assessed by Natural England. Partial assessments have assessed features as being in favourable or unfavourable recovering condition. Details of these can be found at this link

Sensitivities of Interest Features

The summary given below is provided for informal guidance onlyPlease note that the conservation advice package and accompanying supplementary guidance  produced by Natural England and NatureScot for the site should be referred as the definitive and official source of information about site pressures and sensitivities when making decisions about management activities or preparing Habitats Regulations Assessments.

This site is potentially sensitive to any activities which might:

  • Negatively affects the extent, distribution, diversity and species richness of reefs communities, sea caves, mudflats and sandflats, or shallow inlets and bays
  • Negatively affects the population of grey seal
  • Negatively affects the suitability habitats for use by grey seal
  • Negatively affects water quality (including turbidity, nutrient status, contaminants and dissolved oxygen)

A number of regulatory management measures are in place for this SAC. Further details can be found HERE

Overlap with other sites

This site partially overlaps with the following MPAs:

The following SSSIs overlap partially with this MPA