On 2 September 2016, the Scottish Government announced proposals for the extension of two important nature conservation sites designated under EU nature law. Further to the announcement, owners, occupiers and other interested parties will be consulted by Scottish Natural Heritage before final recommendations for the designation of the extensions are made to the Scottish Ministers.
The proposals relate to the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands Special Protection Area designated under the EU Birds Directive for a range of bird species including the endangered hen harrier, and the Glen Beasdale Special Area of Conservation which is designated under the EU Habitats Directive for its oak wood habitat, freshwater pearl mussel and otter. Pending any final decision on their designation, the extension areas now benefit from Scottish Government policy to protect such sites as if designated with the titles “proposed SPA” and “proposed SAC”.
The extensions are necessary to deal with habitat losses to both sites as a result of open cast mining (in the case of the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands SPA) and the upgrading of a section of the A830 trunk road from Arisaig, near Mallaig, to Loch nan Uamh (in the case of the Glen Beasdale SAC).