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Special Areas of Conservation

North Norfolk Coast

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority East Anglia
Centroid* TF752445
Latitude 52.96888889
Longitude 0.610555556
SAC EU Code UK0019838
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 3148.6
* 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 Norfolk Coast SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (3.7%)
  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (65.3%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (19.1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (6.3%)
  • Improved grassland (5.6%)

Download the 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

  • 1150 Coastal lagoons  * Priority feature

    Note: not a marine feature as occur landward of Highest Astronomical Tide This site encompasses a number of small percolation lagoons on the east coast of England; together with Orfordness - Shingle Street and Benacre to Easton Bavents, it forms a significant part of the percolation lagoon resource concentrated in this part of the UK. The most notable of the lagoons at this site are Blakeney Spit Pools, a lagoon system of six small pools between a shingle ridge and saltmarsh. The bottom of each pool is shingle overlain by soft mud. The fauna of the lagoons includes a nationally rare species, the lagoonal mysid shrimp Paramysis nouveli.

  • Perennial vegetation of stony banks occurs at Blakeney Point, a shingle spit on the east coast of England with a series of recurves partly covered by sand dunes. This extensive site has a typical sequence of shingle vegetation, which includes open communities of pioneer species on the exposed ridge and more continuous grassland communities on the more sheltered shingle recurves. It also includes some of the best examples of transitions between shingle and saltmarsh, with characteristic but rare species more typical of the Mediterranean. These include one of the best examples of the transition from sand and shingle to vegetation dominated by shrubby sea-blite Suaeda vera (1420 Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs). Blakeney Point is part of a multiple-interest site. The shingle structure forms a highly significant component of the geomorphological structure of the North Norfolk Coast and helps to maintain a series of interrelated habitats.

  • The North Norfolk Coast, together with The Wash and North Norfolk Coast, comprises the only area in the UK where all the more typically Mediterranean species that characterise Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs occur together. The vegetation is dominated by a shrubby cover up to 40 cm high of scattered bushes of shrubby sea-blite Suaeda vera and sea-purslane Atriplex portulacoides, with a patchy cover of herbaceous plants and bryophytes. This scrub vegetation often forms an important feature of the upper saltmarshes, and extensive examples occur where the drift-line slopes gradually and provides a transition to dune, shingle or reclaimed sections of the coast. At a number of locations on this coast perennial glasswort Sarcocornia perennis forms an open mosaic with other species at the lower limit of the sea-purslane community.

  • North Norfolk Coast in East Anglia is one of two sites representing Embryonic shifting dunes in the east of England (the other being Winterton – Horsey Dunes). It is a long, thin dune system, displaying both progradation and erosion. The exceptional length and variety of the dune/beach interface is reflected in the high total area of embryonic dune (over 40 ha or at least 14% of the national total). The process of continued progradation is central to the conservation of this habitat type at this site. Sand couch Elytrigia juncea is the most prominent sand-binding grass.

  • Shifting dunes form a major component of the complex of often linear dune systems that make up the North Norfolk Coast, which is representative of Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria in East Anglia. The site supports over 100 ha of shifting dune vegetation, 8% of the estimated total area of this habitat type in Britain. The shifting dune vegetation is also varied, containing examples of all the main variants found in the southern part of the geographical range.

  • North Norfolk Coast on the east coast of England contains a large, active series of dunes on shingle barrier islands and spits and is little affected by development. The fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation represents one of the principal variants of this vegetation type in the UK, as many of the swards are rich in lichens and drought-avoiding winter annuals such as common whitlowgrass Erophila verna, early forget-me-not Myosotis ramosissima and common cornsalad Valerianella locusta. The main communities represented are marram Ammophila arenaria with red fescue Festuca rubra and sand sedge Carex arenaria, with lichens such as Cornicularia aculeata.

  • The slacks within this site are comparatively small and the Yorkshire-fog Holcus lanatus community predominates. The site represents Humid dune slacks on the dry east coast of England and present an extreme of the geographical range and ecological variation of the habitat within the UK. They are calcareous and complement the acidic dune slacks at Winterton – Horsey Dunes, also in eastern England. The dune slack communities occur in association with swamp communities.

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

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