1.3 Establishment of SACs

1.3.1 Process for the selection and designation of SACs

Article 4.1 of the Directive requires that Member States employ criteria set out in Annex III to make a selection of sites for each Annex I habitat type and Annex II species that occurs naturally within their territory. It is not required that Member States select all occurrences of each habitat type and species for inclusion on the national list.
The process for the selection and designation of SACs is set out in Article 4:
a)         Member States to prepare national lists of sites of importance for Annex I habitat types and Annex II species of Community interest, based on relevant scientific information and the criteria listed in Annex III Stage 1, and in the light of the aims of the Directive, and to submit the lists to the European Commission (EC).
b)         The national lists to be considered in the light of the criteria listed in Annex III Stage 2 and within the context of biogeographical regions (Article 1(c)iii) and the EU as a whole, and Member States and the European Commission to adopt sites on Member States' national lists as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs).
c)         SCIs to be designated by Member States as SACs within six years of adoption by the Commission.
The Directive required Member States to transmit national lists to the Commission by June 1995, with a view to proposed sites being adopted as SCIs by June 1998. However, across the EU, progress has been slower than scheduled in Article 4, and the site list for the Atlantic Biogeographical Region (which includes the UK) was not formally adopted by the Commission until December 2004. In the UK, designation of SACs is devolved to the relevant administration within each country. The UK's first SACs were subsequently designated in Wales in December 2004, in Scotland in March 2005, in England in April 2005, and in Northern Ireland in May 2005.