A formal public consultation was launched earlier this week by Scottish Natural Heritage asking people to comment on a proposed Special Protection Area (pSPA) in the UK’s third largest estuary. The proposals involve extending the boundary of the existing Upper Solway Flats & Marshes SPA, to protect internationally important populations of red-throated diver, common scoter and goosander, which return to Scotland each year to spend the winter in the Solway.
Working together, SNH and Natural England have developed proposals that will benefit a wide range of marine birds at the site, which straddles the Scottish/English border on the west coast.
The site is part of a suite of 15 pSPAs in Scottish waters designed to help a wide range of marine bird species, by protecting their important areas. If the sites are designated they will form part of Scotland’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which covers approximately 20% of our seas. Developing a network of well-managed MPAs is one way the Scottish Government aims to meet its 2020 Biodiversity Challenge outcome of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse’ coasts and seas.
Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Much of our coastline and the surrounding seas are a globally important habitat for many bird species, providing food, a place to rear young, and winter refuge. This government is committed to ensuring a sustainable future for our precious yet vulnerable marine habitat.”
“The proposed SPAs are now going out to consultation and we want to hear as many views as possible, to ensure that they fulfil our aims to protect our iconic seabirds.”
The consultation gives people the opportunity to share their views on topics such as the featured bird species, the scientific evidence and options for site management. Detailed information about each of the 15 proposals, and to respond to the consultation, visit the SNH website – www.snh.gov.uk/marinebirdSPAs
The 12-week consultation, at midnight on 17 January 2017.