Rum Special Protection Area: business and regulatory impact assessment

An assessment of the business and regulatory impacts of classifying the Rum Special Protection Area.


The Scottish Government is committed to a clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment that meets the long term needs of people and nature. In order to meet this commitment our seas must be managed in a sustainable manner - balancing the competing demands on marine resources. Biological and geological diversity must be protected to ensure our future marine ecosystem is capable of providing the economic and social benefits it yields today.

The EU Wild Birds Directive (2009/147/EC as codified) requires Member States to classify as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) the most suitable territories for wild birds. Building on the work of the SPA Review Working Group and taking account of existing guidelines on the identification of SPAs (JNCC, 1999), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have identified 14 sites which they consider essential for the completion of a list of marine SPAs. These proposals include sites supporting wintering waterfowl, important areas for red throated divers, terns, European shag and foraging seabirds.

The SPA surrounds the Isle of Rum and includes areas of the Sound of Canna and the Sound of Rum, and includes waters around the eastern end of Canna and western side of Eigg.

The area included within the SPA supports a population of European importance of the following Annex 1 species

  • Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata)

The area of the SPA is 467.16km2.

The Small Isles, including Rum, having been strongly influenced by past glaciation show a mixture of steep cliffs, sandy bays and raised beaches. Immediately offshore of Rum the sediments are a mixture of mud and sand with water depth generally less than 40metres (m) (Barne et al 1997). However, close round the island with the exception of the north-east, depth increases rapidly up to 80m and maximum tidal currents generally range between 0.5 and 1.0 m/sec.

The breeding range of red-throated divers in the UK is restricted to Scotland, with the coastal waters adjacent to many nesting localities being of particular importance for feeding. The birds on Rum (13 pairs in 2010; 1% of the Great Britain population) and those in the surrounding areas (at least 5 pairs) form a large concentration in the Inner Hebrides towards the southern edge of the Scottish range.

Red-throated divers breed on freshwater lochs on blanket bog and moorland. Although red-throated divers nest on inland lochs, they fly to forage in nearby inshore waters. Foraging dives are usually less than 10m deep, mostly in shallow coastal waters within 9km of the nest location while breeding.

Their main prey items are a range of fish species including cod (Gadus morhua), herring (Clupea harengus) and a number of small species such as gobies (Gobidae). In some areas (including Rum) sandeels (Hyperlopus lanceolatus and Ammodytes sp) form an important part of the diet.



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