Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (National) (DEFRA)

Three estuaries – the Dee, Humber and Severn – have been earmarked by the government as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect vulnerable wildlife and habitats.

Defra has written to the European Commission to seek SAC status for the three candidate sites, to add to the UK’s 611 SACs covering just over two and a half million hectares. This is part of a long-running process of designation of UK conservation areas under the EU Habitats Directive.

The estuaries have been chosen as some of the best areas in the UK for mudflats, sand flats and Atlantic salt meadows. The estuaries are also important areas for migratory fish and as a nursery for juvenile fish of many species.

The subtidal and intertidal habitats, fringing salt marsh and reedbeds provide a valuable resource for a large number of rare or threatened mammals, fish and plants.