This new site extends and links up two existing ones.
At a ceremony to declare the extension of the Ribble Estuary national nature reserve, environment and countryside minister Robert Atkins said:
'As a local MP I know the area well. The site includes the inter-tidal mudflats of the two estuaries and an extensive system of calcareous sand dunes and foreshore, which form the best example of sand dune habitat on the north west coast of England.
'The site is internationally important because it regularly supports the wintering population of over 20,000 waterfowl including Bewick swan, Whooper swan, Pink-footed goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit and Redshank.
'The site further supports nationally important breeding populations of Common tern and Ruff. In addition, the site supports up to 40% of the British population of the Natterjack Toad.'