Skip to Content

Special Areas of Conservation

Margate and Long Sands

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Extra-Regio
Latitude 51.565
Longitude 1.37
SAC EU Code UK0030371
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 64876.85
* 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 Margate and Long Sands SAC

General site character

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets (100%)

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

  • Margate and Long Sands starts to the north of the Thanet coast of Kent and proceeds in a north-easterly direction to the outer reaches of the Thames Estuary. It contains a number of Annex I Sandbanks slightly covered by seawater at all times, the largest of which is Long Sands itself. The sandbanks are composed of well-sorted sandy sediments, with muddier and more gravelly sediments in the troughs between banks, and the upper crests of some of the larger banks dry out at low tide. The banks are tidally-influenced estuary mouth sandbanks, the southern banks aligned approximately east-west in the direction of tidal currents entering the Thames Estuary from the English Channel whereas Long Sand is aligned in a north east - south west orientation with influence from the North Sea. In common with all sandbanks the structure of the banks is dynamic and there have been significant movements of the bank edges over time. The fauna of the bank crests is characteristic of species-poor, mobile sand environments, and is dominated by polychaete worms and amphipods. Within the troughs and on the bank slopes a higher diversity of polychaetes, crustacea, molluscs and echinoderms are found. Mobile epifauna includes crabs and brown shrimp, along with squid and commercially important fish species such as sole and herring. Although this site is being put forward for designation on the basis of the presence of Sandbank Annex I interest feature, there is a significant amount of the reef-forming ross worm (Sabellaria spinulosa) at this site, which when formed as a reef qualifies as an Annex I habitat (biogenic reef). However, the available data indicate that the distribution of S. spinulosa is patchy, or that the aggregations form crusts rather than reefs. Areas of high S. spinulosa density support a diverse attached epifauna of bryozoans, hydroids, sponges and tunicates, and additional fauna including polychaetes, bivalves, amphipods, crabs and lobsters. These diverse communities are usually found on the flanks of the sandbanks and towards the troughs.

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.