Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is on the north-eastern tip of Kent in southern England. It is a coastal site made up of a long stretch of rocky shore, sand dunes and saltmarsh.  This site is home to large numbers of migratory birds in spring, before they leave for continental Europe in autumn.

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 July 1994

Surface Area

18.80 km2 (7.26 mi.2)


135.47 km (84.18 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

51° 20' 2" North, 1° 20' 5" East

  • 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.

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)

Did you know?…

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

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

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers