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Special Areas of Conservation

Flamborough Head

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire
Centroid* TA257701
Latitude 54.111
Longitude -0.082
SAC EU Code UK0013036
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 6403.01
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Flamborough Head SAC

General site character

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets (97%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (2%)
  • Improved grassland (1%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • 1170 Reefs

    Flamborough Head has been selected for the presence of species associated with the chalk and for the site’s location at the southern limit of distribution of several northern species. It lies close to the biogeographic boundary between two North Sea waterbodies and encompasses a large area of hard and soft chalk on the east coast of England. The site covers around 14% of UK and 9% of European coastal chalk exposure, represents the most northern outcrop of chalk in the UK, and includes bedrock and boulder reefs which extend further into deeper water than at other subtidal chalk sites in the UK, giving one of the most extensive areas of sublittoral chalk in Europe. The reefs and cliffs on the north side of the headland are very hard, resulting in, for example, the presence of many overhangs and vertical faces, a feature uncommon in sublittoral chalk. The clarity of the relatively unpolluted sea water and the hard nature of the chalk have enabled kelp Laminaria hyperborea forests to become established in the shallow sublittoral. The reefs to the north support a different range of species from those on the slightly softer and more sheltered south side of the headland. The site supports an unusual range of marine species and includes rich animal communities and some species that are at the southern limit of their North Sea distribution, e.g. the northern alga Ptilota plumosa. For these reasons, the sublittoral and littoral reef habitats at Flamborough are considered to be the most diverse in the UK.

  • Flamborough is an east coast representative of hard chalk cliffs, which occur more frequently on the south coast of England. The vegetation of east coast cliff sites is typically less influenced by salt deposition and there are few such areas with predominantly limestone vegetation. Flamborough Head is an exception and is therefore important for the conservation of calcareous cliff vegetation. Maritime vegetation is local and occurs where topography increases salt spray deposition. Elsewhere the chalk substrate supports calcareous grassland communities. Towards the eastern end of the site the chalk is masked by drift deposits, which support mesotrophic and acidic grassland communities.

  • There are larger numbers and a wider range of cave habitats at Flamborough than at any other chalk site in Britain. This site, on the east coast of England, represents caves of the North Sea coast cut into soft rock exposures and is important for its specialised cave algal communities, which contain abundant Hildenbrandia rubra, Pseudendoclonium submarinum, Sphacelaria nana and Waerniella lucifuga. There are more than 200 caves within the site, particularly around the headland and on the north-facing cliffs. Some of these caves are partially submerged at all stages of the tide, others dry out at low tide, and some lie above the high water mark but are heavily influenced by wave splash and salt spray from the sea. The largest caves are known to extend for more than 50 m from their entrance on the coast.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.