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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-07397: Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 22 February 2017

To ask the Scottish Government how many Natura sites in Scotland are underpinned by (a) the EU (i) habitats and (ii) birds directive and (b) being designated sites of special scientific interest or marine protected areas, and how many are not.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 7 March 2017

Natura 2000 is the EU-wide network of protected areas created under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. Sites designated under the Habitats Directive are called Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Sites of Community Interest (SCIs), the latter being the penultimate stage in the designation process for SACs. Sites designated under the Birds Directive are called Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

In Scotland there are 239 SACs (including 3 cross-border sites), 2 SCIs, and 153 SPAs (including 1 cross-border site). These figures do not include the 15 proposed SPAs in the marine environment for which consultation recently ended, or the Inner Hebrides and the Minches candidate SAC which has been submitted to the European Commission in accordance with the requirements of Article 4 of the Habitats Directive.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are constrained within the seaward limits of local authority areas or the “Mean Low Water Spring” mark. “Underpinning” is a non-technical term used to denote that in most cases additional statutory protection is afforded to Natura 2000 sites in Great Britain via co-designation with SSSI (largely via the list of operations requiring consent associated with each SSSI). There is no such relationship between Marine Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites although SNH advises of some 25 instances of overlap. Details of Natura 2000 sites underpinned by SSSI in Scotland are as follows:




Fully underpinned with SSSI



Partially underpinned with SSSI



Not underpinned