Rationale for Government intervention
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. The Scottish Government is responsible for identifying SPAs for Scotland.
In addition, the Scottish Government has a number of international commitments to deliver a network of MPAs. Scotland's marine environment provides: food; energy sources (wind, wave and tidal power, minerals and fossil fuels); routes and harbours for shipping; tourism and recreational opportunities; and sites of cultural and historical interest. Scotland's seas contain important distinctive habitats and support a diverse range of species that require protection in order to be conserved or for recovery to be facilitated. Due to the competing demands placed upon Scotland's marine resources, more effective management is required so that a balance between conservation and sustainable use can be struck. Currently there is not sufficient protection in place to ensure that the marine environment is properly protected and complex ecosystems safeguarded.
The SPAs will form part of an ecologically coherent network of well-managed MPAs that is vital to conserve and regenerate our seas, in turn protecting the many goods and services they provide now, and for generations to come.