Solent Maritime

Site details

UK map showing location of Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Solent Maritime SAC/SCI/cSAC


When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

1130 Estuaries
The Solent encompasses a major estuarine system on the south coast of England with four coastal plain estuaries (Yar, Medina, Kings Quay Shore, Hamble) and four bar-built estuaries (Newtown Harbour, Beaulieu, Langstone Harbour, Chichester Harbour). The site is the only one in the series to contain more than one physiographic sub-type of estuary and is the only cluster site. The Solent and its inlets are unique in Britain and Europe for their hydrographic regime of four tides each day, and for the complexity of the marine and estuarine habitats present within the area. Sediment habitats within the estuaries include extensive estuarine flats, often with intertidal areas supporting eelgrass Zostera spp. and green algae, sand and shingle spits, and natural shoreline transitions. The mudflats range from low and variable salinity in the upper reaches of the estuaries to very sheltered almost fully marine muds in Chichester and Langstone Harbours. Unusual features include the presence of very rare sponges in the Yar estuary and a sandy reef of the polychaete Sabellaria spinulosa on the steep eastern side of the entrance to Chichester Harbour.
1320 Spartina swards (Spartinion maritimae)
Solent Maritime is the only site for smooth cord-grass Spartina alterniflora in the UK and is one of only two sites where significant amounts of small cord-grass S. maritima are found. It is also one of the few remaining sites for Townsends cord-grass S.xtownsendii and holds extensive areas of common cord-grass Spartina anglica, all four taxa thus occurring here in close proximity. It has additional historical and scientific interest as the site where S. alterniflora was first recorded in the UK (1829) and where S.xtownsendii and, later, S. anglica first occurred.
1330 Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae)
The Solent contains the second-largest aggregation of Atlantic salt meadows in south and south-west England. Solent Maritime is a composite site composed of a large number of separate areas of saltmarsh. In contrast to the Severn estuary, the salt meadows at this site are notable as being representative of the ungrazed type and support a different range of communities dominated by sea-purslane Atriplex portulacoides, common sea-lavender Limonium vulgare and thrift Armeria maritima. As a whole the site is less truncated by man-made features than other parts of the south coast and shows rare and unusual transitions to freshwater reedswamp and alluvial woodland as well as coastal grassland. Typical Atlantic salt meadow is still widespread in this site, despite a long history of colonisation by cord-grass Spartina spp.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time
1140 Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
1150 Coastal lagoons  * Priority feature
1210 Annual vegetation of drift lines
1220 Perennial vegetation of stony banks
1310 Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand
2120 "Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria (""white dunes"")"

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Not applicable.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

1016 Desmoulin`s whorl snail  Vertigo moulinsiana

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