Northumbria Coast SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site includes much of the coastline between the Tweed and Tees Estuaries in north-east England. The shore here is rocky with cobble beaches.  In summer, the site supports important numbers of breeding little terns, whilst in winter this area supports a large number of turnstones and purple sandpipers. 

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 February 2000

Surface Area

10.98 km2 (4.24 mi.2)


238.33 km (148.09 mi.)

  • Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

    A small shore bird whose name refers to its habit of creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones.

  • Little tern (Sterna albifrons)

    This bird is one of the smallest of its species. Breeding colonies are located on beaches nearby shallow, sheltered waters which offer good foraging for small fish and invertebrates.

  • Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)

    A bird with one of the longest migrations of any bird species. They often travel between the Arctic and Antarctic each year. They breed in coastal colonies, and feed mostly on small fish which they pick from the top few centimetres of the water column.

  • Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)

    A medium-sized wading bird. While they are mainly just winter visitors to the UK there are a couple of breeding pairs. The breeding areas in Scotland are kept secret to protect the birds from egg thieves and disturbance. 

Did you know?…

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’