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Three outstanding montane areas of Scotland have been given ...
Three outstanding montane areas of Scotland have been given

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.

The sites are the Cairngorms, Caenlochan and the Drumochter Hills.

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

public interest.

5.This brings the total number of SPA classifications in Scotland

to 77.

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

and Merlin.

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.

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