The Flamborough Head SAC protects Europe’s most northerly outcrop of coastal chalk
The numerous sea caves, unique chalk reef and extensive vegetated sea cliffs around Flamborough provide important habitat for a wide range of wildlife. The unique geological features of the headland and the rich waters of the North Sea – nourished by the meeting of two currents, known as the Flamborough Front – draw seabirds and other marine species to the area each year.
This internationally-recognised designation forms part of the Flamborough Head European Marine Site (EMS) alongside the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area.
2021 Flamborough Head EMS Annual Report
How is the protected area managed?
The protected areas around the Flamborough and Filey coast are managed by a partnership of organisations. These organisations, known as Relevant Authorities, have a legal duty to uphold the protection afforded to our important species and habitats. Working together, the eleven Relevant Authorities and a core group of other key partners, share their expertise and resources to provide proactive management to the Flamborough Head EMS.
Many activities, such as fishing or developments, which take place around the Flamborough Head SAC are licensed by individual Relevant Authorities. When issuing permissions or licences, the Authority must take into account any potential impacts on the protected area. Non-licensable activities, such as recreational activities, are jointly managed by all Authorities.
The Relevant Authorities have agreed a five-year Management Plan for the Flamborough Head EMS (including the SAC), which is due to be renewed in 2021. The Management Plan describes the importance of the site, the activities which are known to take place within the boundaries of the protected area, and the active or planned management for each of those activities.
2016 – 2021 Flamborough Head EMS Management Plan
The chalk bedrock and boulder reefs of Flamborough Head are one of the most extensive areas of sublittoral chalk in Europe, extending up to 6km offshore. Comprising of horizontal ledges, vertical walls and broken rock, the harder chalk on the north side of the headland has created a reef habitat which supports a different range of species from those on the slightly softer southern side of the headland.
This diverse temperate ecosystem is home to a wide variety of animals and plants, including commercially-important species like crabs and lobsters. The unique location of the chalk reef, between the colder northern current and the warmer waters from the south, means that many species are found to be at the limits of their normal distribution range. For these reasons, the reef habitats at Flamborough are considered to be one of the most diverse in the UK.