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RSPB welcomes Special Protection Area extension proposal for Yorkshire coast

Last modified: 21 January 2014

Razorbill, close up of head

Image: Chris Gomersall

The RSPB has welcomed the Government’s proposal to extend the Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs Special Protection Area (SPA) in recognition of the coast’s importance for breeding seabirds. 

The current SPA, which includes most of Flamborough Head, is home to large populations of seabirds during the breeding season including kittiwakes, gannets, fulmars, guillemots and razorbills.

The proposal, announced yesterday (20 January), will extend the SPA northwards from Filey Brigg along the coast northwards to Cunstone Nab, and also 2km out to sea along the length of the boundary.

This extended SPA will be renamed Flamborough and Filey Coast and provide extra legal protection for colonies of seabirds that were previously outside of the boundary and for all of the seabirds that use the sea for preening and bathing.

However, the RSPB is concerned that there is no clear plan in the proposal to address the alarming declines of kittiwakes, the number of which has halved over the past few decades in the current SPA. 

Rachel Hepburn, Marine Conservation Officer for North East England and Yorkshire, said: “The Yorkshire coast is a huge asset and it is the quality of this environment that makes it so valuable. 

“The proposed extension recognises the outstanding natural quality of this part of the coast as one of the best places for wildlife in Europe, and helps protect a vital breeding area to some of our most important and charismatic birds.

“But a lot more consideration needs to be given to tackling the declines of kittiwakes, which are really struggling both at Flamborough Head and nationally.”  

The consultation on the proposal starts today and will close at noon on 14th April 2014. Information, such as the consultation document, maps etc can be found on Natural England’s web site:


How you can help

Current proposals to create marine protected areas in the waters of each country offer almost no protection for seabirds. With the support of people like you, we can continue to fight for better protection for our seas.