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Special Areas of Conservation

North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country UK Offshore waters
Unitary Authority Extra-Regio
Centroid*
Latitude 53.3747
Longitude 2.1208
SAC EU Code UK0030358
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 360341
* 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 Sandbanks and Saturn Reef SAC

General site character

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets (100%)

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

  • The North Norfolk Sandbanks are the most extensive example of the offshore linear ridge sandbank type in UK waters (Graham et al., 2001). They are subject to a range of current strengths which are strongest on the banks closest to shore and which reduce offshore (Collins et al., 1995). The outer banks are the best example of open sea, tidal sandbanks in a moderate current strength in UK waters. Sandwaves are present, being best developed on the inner banks; the outer banks having small or no sandwaves associated with them (Collins et al., 1995). The banks support communities of invertebrates which are typical of sandy sediments in the southern North Sea such as polychaete worms, isopods, crabs and starfish. The sandbanks have a north-west to south-east orientation and are thought to be progressively, though very slowly, elongating in a north-easterly direction (perpendicular to their long axes) (Cooper et al., 2008). They extend from about 40km (22 nautical miles) off the north-east coast of Norfolk out to approximately 110km (60n miles) (Collins et al., 1995). The banks included are: Leman, Ower, Inner, Well, Broken, Swarte and four banks called, collectively, the Indefatigables. The summits of the banks are in water shallower than 20m below Chart Datum, and the flanks of the banks extend into waters up to 40 m deep.

  • 1170 Reefs

    The Saturn Sabellaria spinulosa biogenic reef, first discovered in 2002, consists of thousands of fragile sand-tubes made by ross worms (polychaetes) which have consolidated together to create a solid structure rising above the seabed (BMT Cordah, 2003). This structure qualifies as Annex I Reef according to European Commission interpretation (CEC, 2007). In 2003, the Saturn reef covered an area approximately 750m by 500m just to the south of Swarte Bank, varying in density over this area (BMT Cordah, 2003).

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.