Last edited 25 Feb 2016

Special areas of conservation

Contents

[edit] Introduction

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are internationally important areas defined by the national planning policy framework (nppf) as 'Areas given special protection under the European Union’s Habitats Directive, which is transposed into UK law by the Habitats and Conservation of Species Regulations 2010.'

The purpose of Special Areas of Conservation is to help conserve the 189 habitat types and 788 species identified in Annex I and II of the Directive. They are considered to be the habitats and species that are most in need of conservation at the European level (excluding birds).

Special Areas of Conservation along with Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which are classified under the Birds Directive, collectively form the Natura 2000 network.

[edit] Locations

In the United Kingdom, there in 2014, there were total of 652 designated SACs, candidate SACs (cSACs) or Sites of Community Importance (SCI). Sites of Community Importance are sites that have been adopted by the European Commission but not formally designated by the government. Candidate SACs are sites that have been submitted to the European Commission but not formally adopted.

Further information on each of the 652 sites and a location map is available from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.

[edit] Interest features

[edit] Habitat types

There are 78 different Annex I habitat types present in the UK which fall under the following broad habitat types:

  • Marine, coastal and halophytic habitats.
  • Coastal sand dunes and continental dunes.
  • Freshwater habitats.
  • Temperate heath and scrub.
  • Scelerophyllous scrub (matorral).
  • Natural and semi-natural grassland formations.
  • Raised bogs, mires and fens.
  • Rocky habitats and caves.
  • Forests.

A detailed habitat account is available for each which includes:

  • Background to selection: Description and ecological characteristics; European status and distribution; Site selection rationale.
  • Site accounts.
  • SACs/SCIs/cSACs where this Annex I habitat is a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection.

[edit] Species

There are 43 Annex II species present in the UK which fall within the following categories:

  • Invertebrates: molluscs.
  • Invertebrates: arthropods.
  • Vertebrates: fish.
  • Vertebrates: amphibians.
  • Vertebrates: mammals.
  • Lower plant species.
  • Higher plant species.

A detailed species account is available for each which includes:

  • Background to selection: Description and ecological characteristics; European status and distribution; Site selection rationale.
  • Site accounts.
  • SACs where this Annex II species is a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection.

[edit] Proposals that may affect a Special Area of Conservation

Any developments that are close to (or within) the boundary of a Special Area of Conservation may require a Habitat Regulations Assessment if they are likely to have an adverse affect on the site. An initial screening stage would be required, followed by an Appropriate Assessment.

Where it is considered that an adverse effect on the integrity of the site is likely, and no alternatives are available, the project can only go ahead if there are imperative reasons of over-riding public interest and if the appropriate compensatory measures can be secured.

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.

[edit] External references