Harbour Porpoise Possible Special Areas of Conservation

The five harbour porpoise SACs consulted on in 2016 were given Ministerial clearance and were submitted to the European Commission for approval to designate on 30 January 2017.


JNCC and NRW consulted on five sites in Welsh, Northern Ireland, English and offshore waters in 2016. JNCC and relevant Country Nature Conservation Bodies assimilated responses received and prepared a consultation report and advice to Government. This was submitted to Governments on 28 September 2016 and can be accessed through the link provided below. Governments have now given approval for submission of the sites to the European Commission, for consideration to designate as Special Areas of Conservation.


Post-consultation report and advice to Government


Site Information Centres for the five sites are available and will be further updated with documents and information regarding the designation process and future governance of the sites:


Bristol Channel Approaches cSAC

West Wales Marine cSAC

North Anglesey Marine cSAC

North Channel cSAC

Southern North Sea cSAC


Project background and consultation archive:

The consultation ran between 19 January - 3 May 2016


Harbour Porpoise © Neil Golding

These webpages continue to host the material and papers produced as part of the identification and consultation process for harbour porpoise pSACs.  Please note, some documents are now historic records rather than current documents – we will be publishing any updated or new information on the Site Information Centres when available.


There were five harbour porpoise pSACs which were divided between two simultaneous consultations lead by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). 


JNCC also scheduled six open public drop-in events in support of the consultation, further details of which can be found on our stakeholder events page.

The five possible SACs split between two consultations


SAC Network Consultation 2016

SAC Network consultation 2016



What we consulted on


We consulted on:

a) the scientific basis on which the proposed boundaries are based, as described in each of the Selection Assessment Documents, and

b) the draft UK Socio-Economic Impact Assessment, analysing the possible impacts of the sites on human activity, including likely management scenarios for each site.


These documents are listed and linked in the ‘Consultation Documents’ section below. Supporting documentation with further detail of how the boundaries were determined is provided as background information. A list of questions and answers was made available as an initial reference for any queries regarding the consultation and the information supplied.


Primary consultation documents - updated documents will be hosted on the Site Information Centres linked above.


Bristol Channel Approaches pSAC

North Channel pSAC

Southern North Sea pSAC


Draft Socio-Economic Impact Assessment 

A report analysing the potential positive and negative impacts associated with the pSAC proposals regarding the interaction of the proposals with human activities.


Supporting documentation for each site

Bristol Channel Approaches pSAC

North Channel pSAC

Southern North Sea pSAC


Supporting documentation for the site network

Various documents were produced in support of the identification and consultation of the harbour porpoise pSACs.   

Site identification documents


What happens now

The CNCBs have collated the consultation responses and produced a report with details of how comments have been considered and subsequent advice on designation of the five sites. This was submitted to Governments on 28 September 2016. Ministers have considered this advice and granted approval for all five sites to be submitted to the European Commission, which occurred on 30 January 2017.  The European Commission will now consider the submissions and a decision will follow regarding the appropriateness of the proposals, and subsequent approval for designation as Sites of Community Importance (SCI). UK Governments will then formally consider whether to designate the sites as Special Areas of Conservation for harbour porpoise.  


For further information on Special Areas of Conservation in the UK, visit the JNCC SAC webpage