Natural England - European Marine Sites

European Marine Sites

The term ‘European Marine Sites’ (EMS) collectively describes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that are covered by tidal waters and protect some of our most important marine and coastal habitats and species of European importance.

Find conservation advice for European Marine Sitesexternal link

SACs contain animals, plants and habitats that are considered rare, special or threatened within Europe while SPAs protect important bird species. These sites are designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directivesexternal link respectively and form part of the European-wide Natura 2000 network of internationally important sites.

Natural England's role

Natural England is responsible for providing nature conservation advice to relevant authoritiesexternal link for EMS in English territorial waters. It also provides joint advice with statutory nature conservation bodies in Wales and Scotland for cross-border and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) for offshore sites.  Until 2010, this advice was given under Regulation 33 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 external link Advice is now provided under Regulation 35 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.external link

To satisfy the requirements set out in the Report of the Habitats and Wild Birds Directive Implementation Review (Defra, March 2012)external link, the European Commission guidance on conservation objectives and to respond to stakeholder feedback on the quality of current advice, Natural England is reviewing the approach it takes to developing and delivering the information contained in these packages. Please see our improving MPA conservation advice pages for more information.

Conservation advice for EMS

Search for sitesexternal link within English waters and cross-border sites by alphabetical listing or map location. Along with the conservation advice packages, all or some of the following supporting documents are also provided:

  • Natura 2000 Standard Data Forms (forms submitted to the EU Commission at site designation, containing high-level information about site location and designated features)

  • Maps of the sites extent, the individual SACs and SPAs within the sites or other features

  • SAC Selection Assessment Documents and Departmental Briefs for SPAs

  • Management Plans or links to the management scheme websites (where applicable)

Completing the suite of EMS

The SAC network in English territorial waters is complete. Further work is required to complete the SPA network at sea in order to safeguard internationally important populations of breeding, migrating and wintering birds.  See new marine Natura 2000 sites for further information.

If you have any further questions regarding conservation advice please contact: