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Special Areas of Conservation

Sidmouth to West Bay

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Devon, Dorset and Somerset
Centroid* SY326912
Latitude 50.7158
Longitude -2.9544
SAC EU Code UK0019864
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 895.58
* 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 Sidmouth to West Bay SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (1%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (54.2%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (29.8%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (15%)

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

  • Sidmouth to West Bay is separated from the other two cliff cSACs on this part of the south coast of England, Isle of Portland to Studland Cliffs and St Albans Head to Durlston Head, by Chesil and the Fleet, which does not have a cliffed coastline. Sidmouth to West Bay is an example of a highly unstable soft cliff coastline subject to mudslides and landslips. The principal rock types are soft mudstones, clays and silty limestones, with a small chalk outlier in the west. The central part comprises the extensive Axmouth to Lyme Regis landslip, where chalk overlies the unstable rocks mentioned, resulting in slips ranging from frequent minor events to occasional mass movement events when entire blocks of the chalk scarp move seawards. The eastern part has no chalk capping and is subject to frequent mudslides in the waterlogged soft limestones and clays. Vegetation is very varied and includes pioneer communities on recent slips, calcareous grassland and scrub on detached chalk blocks and extensive self-sown woodland dominated by ash Fraxinus excelsior or sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus.

  • This site includes an area of active landslipping between Axmouth and Lyme Regis. These landslips have created, and will continue to shape, the mosaic of Tilio-Acerion, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus woodland, mixed scrub, grassland and pioneer communities. This mosaic of habitats makes this site rich in invertebrates, especially bees and wasps, such as Ectemnius ruficornis, Andrena simillima and Nomada fulvicornis. The woodland has a hazel Corylus avellana understorey and a ground-flora dominated by ivy Hedera helix (with numerous ivy broomrape Orobanche hederae) and hart’s-tongue Phyllitis scolopendrium, with abundant dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis and tutsan Hypericum androsaemum. The Red Data Book lichen Parmelia quercina occurs on ash Fraxinus excelsior trees.

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

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.