What are SACs?

The European Union Habitats and Birds Directives were recently adopted by the European Community, 1992 and 1979 respectively. These directives aim to maintain the rich diversity of European wildlife, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. Under the Directives, each country in the European Union has put forward a selection of sites on land and at sea which include the best examples of a variety of vulnerable habitats and species.

This network of protected areas is called the Natura 2000 series and includes two types of area: Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Together the areas of seashore and sea form one single European Marine Site. Flamborough Head is not only part of the Natura 2000 network but also contributes to a network of marine protected areas around the UK. Click here to see all the SACs in the UK.

How does Flamborough Head qualify?

Flamborough Head is an important wildlife site in Europe. In 1996, it was submitted to the European Union as a candidate SAC for its:

Vegetated Sea Cliffs

Steep slopes fringing hard or soft coasts, created by past or present marine erosion, supporting a wide diversity of vegetation types with variable maritime influence. Read more...

Sea Caves

Formed by waves crashing against rocky coastline. Waves hit sea cliffs eroding the soil and rock, and after many years create sea caves. Read more...

Chalk Reefs

Chalk reef habitats are rich in marine life. Many animals and plants need to attach themselves to something solid for their survival. Read more...

What are SPAs?

Special Protection Areas have been chosen where they support rare, endangered, migratory or large numbers of birds or their habitats. 


In 1993, Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs was designated as a SPA for its:

  • 83,700 pairs of Kittiwake
  • 32,300 Guillemot
  • 7,700 Razorbill
  • 7000 Puffin
  • Over 200,000 regularly occurring migratory seabirds in total

Recently, the protected area has been extended to include Filey Brigg and 2 kilometres of inshore waters.  For more information on the Flamborough and Filey Coast potential Special Protection Area (pSPA), click here.