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Part of Northumberland coast to become a 'special protection zone' for more than 200,000 birds.

A section of Northumberland coastline supporting 200,000 seabirds are getting greater protection, Natural England announced today.

The newly designated Northumberland Marine Special Protection Area (SPA) stretches 12 miles from the coastline into the North Sea, and covers an area equivalent to more than 120,000 football pitches.

Atlantic puffin. Credit: Natural England

Natural England describes the Northumberland coast as as 'the most important site in the UK for Arctic, common and roseate terns, the second most important site for sandwich tern, and the third most important site for Atlantic puffin.'

International designation will help ensure any disturbance to the birds’ open water feeding areas is minimised, so that the birds have a safe space to feed in.

Designated feeding waters at Farne Islands. Credit: Natural England

A spokeswoman for Natural England said the announcement builds on the protection already afforded to important breeding sites via the network of SPAs at Coquet Island, Farne Islands, and Lindisfarne.

Guillemots on the Northumberland coast. Credit: Natural England

Along with the new Northumberland Marine SPA, Natural England also announced extensions to Hamford Water SPA in Essex and Morecambe Bay and Duddon Estuary SPA in Cumbria.

"This is a momentous day for a huge number of our best-loved and most charismatic seabirds, many of which have suffered population declines over recent decades.

“These designations will protect vital feeding areas for seabirds along the English coast, creating safe havens to help the birds thrive for generations to come.”

– Andrew Sells, Natural England
Arctic tern. Credit: Natural England

“We already have one of the strongest track records in the world when it comes to looking after our precious marine environment, and today’s designations will strengthen our blue-belt of protected areas while helping seabirds across the country thrive.”

– Therese Coffey MP, Environment Minister