the international classification of Special Protection Area (SPA) status under the EC Wild Birds Directive. This was announced by
Lord Sewel, Scottish agriculture, environment and fisheries minister,
and brings the total number of SPA classifications in Scotland to 77.
Announcing the protection, Lord Sewel said:
'These three sites are among the most outstanding montane
areas of Scotland. SPA classifications ensure the protection of these
magnificent examples of Scotland's unique natural heritage for
generations to come. They will protect dotterel, a specialist montane
bird species, along with other birds such as golden eagles, merlins and peregrines.
'I have classified the sites on the basis of scientific advice from
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and using the boundaries proposed in
SPA consultations carried out by SNH with owners and occupiers and
other interests in July 1996. If a compelling case is made on scientific grounds for a change to the boundaries, I shall of course take heed of any further advice from SNH. Any proposed modification would be subject to the usual full consultations but I do not wish to delay further the classification of these superb SPAs.
'The government is committed to complying with its international environmental obligations but is also sensitive to the needs of rural communities and the rural economy. The recently published NPPG on skiing confirmed that SPA classifications need not necessarily preclude further developments in such areas.'
1.The EC Wild Birds Directive (79/409) was adopted in 1979 and
provides for the protection and management of all species of naturally
occurring wild birds.
2.Member States are obliged by the Directive to protect listed rare
and endangered species and migratory birds through a combination of
site classification and associated measures. The Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 provides protection for wild birds generally. In
collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), The Scottish
Office has developed a programme to classify the most appropriate
3.SPAs are classified by the secretary of state on
recommendations by SNH, the government's statutory advisers on
natural heritage issues. SNH undertakes consultation with owners and
occupiers and other local interests about proposed classifications. Sites recommended for classification will first have been notified as SSSIs under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
4.SPA classification reinforces the protection afforded to a site
under the SSSI arrangements. Under the terms of the Conservation
(Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994 development which would
damage the conservation interest can only proceed if there are no
alternative solutions and there are imperative reasons of overriding
5.This brings the total number of SPA classifications in Scotland
6.Cairngorms SPA extends to nearly 50,000 hectares, taking in
Caledonian pine forest, moorland and montane plateaux. It is
important for Golden Eagle, Capercaillie, Dotterel, Scottish Crossbill, Peregrine, Merlin and Osprey.
7.Caenlochan SPA comprises nearly 6,000 hectares in the
Grampian mountains of north east Scotland. It also is important for
Dotterel and Golden Eagle.
8.The Drumochter Hills SPA extends to some 9,500 hectares on
either side of the Drumochter Pass. The site is important for Dotterel
9.The secretary of state for Scotland set out the government's
intentions in respect of natural heritage designations in Scotland in a statement on September 15, 1997. Amongst other proposals, the Government are to produce three publications in the Spring of 1998. These are an account of the main designations in use in Scotland, aimed at the general reader; a National Planning Policy Guideline on the natural heritage and planning; and a Planning Advice Note on best planning practice in relation to natural heritage designations.