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Special Areas of Conservation

North Northumberland Dunes

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Northumberland and Tyne and Wear
Centroid* NU126435
Latitude 55.68472222
Longitude -1.800277778
SAC EU Code UK0017097
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 1127.27
* 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 North Northumberland Dunes SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (25%)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes (5%)
  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (67%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (1%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (1%)

Download the Natura 2000 standard data form for this site as submitted to Europe (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

  • North Northumberland Dunes represents Embryonic shifting dunes in north-east England. The embryonic shifting dune vegetation of this long series of dunes is both extensive and varied. There are examples of all the main embryonic dune communities. Lyme-grass Leymus arenarius communities are particularly strongly represented, but sand couch Elytrigia juncea communities and strandline species are also present.

  • This site consists of a number of dune systems on the north-east coast of England, most of which are accreting and forming suitable conditions for the development of shifting dunes with Ammophila arenaria. Lyme-grass Leymus arenarius is a characteristic species in this habitat type in north-east England, often as an important component. Climbing dunes can occur on steep rocky coasts, as found at Bamburgh. Some of the dune systems support a number of uncommon dune plants, some of which are at the limit of their distribution in the UK.

  • North Northumberland Dunes represents fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation in north-east England. It is an active site with extensive calcareous fixed dunes locally grading into more acidic fixed dune vegetation and dune heath. The site has been selected particularly as a representative of the north-eastern variant, in which bloody crane’s-bill Geranium sanguineum is prominent.

  • The dunes of Holy Island and Ross Links are calcareous and represent dunes with Salix repens ssp. argentea on the north-east coast of England. Creeping willow Salix repens ssp. argentea dominates the more mature dune slacks and a number of rare plant species are associated with this type of vegetation. The mature slacks contribute to the wide range of habitats found on this site and form part of a well-developed successional series.

  • North Northumberland Dunes represents a rare example of well-developed dune slack vegetation on the east coast of England. Holy Island contains a number of calcareous, species-rich dune slacks, which support a number of rare species, such as coralroot Corallorhiza trifida, dune helleborine Epipactis leptochila var. dunensis and seaside centaury Centaurium littorale. Active slack formation is continuing at this site and a range of successional stages are present. The humid dune slacks of nearby Ross Links contain vegetation typical of more base-poor conditions. The site as a whole therefore contains an exceptional range of humid dune slack types, including 40 ha of the full range of slack vegetation types characterised by common sedge Carex nigra.

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

  • 1395 Petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii

    This site represents petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii in north-east England. There are extensive dune systems with slacks here, both on the mainland and on Holy Island. Petalwort has been recorded from Holy Island and from two locations on the mainland.

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.