Site overview: This site lies on the coast of County Down in Northern Ireland, situated close to Newcastle; it is designated to protect some distinct features found in this area. The fixed dunes here are the largest and most important dune heath site in Northern Ireland. The marsh fritillary butterfly calls these sand dunes home, and this is one of the largest populations in Northern Ireland.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Special Area of Conservation
MPA Purpose
areas which have been identified as best representing the range and variety within the European Union of habitats and (non-bird) species listed on Annexes I and II to the Directive


54° 12' 21" North,
5° 47' 54" West

Surface Area

118.96 km2
(45.93 mi.2 )


79.88 km
(49.64 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site


  • Atlantic salt meadows (Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae))
  • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide)


  • Common seal (Phoca vitulina)


  • Subtidal sandbanks (Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time)