JNCC and Natural England have jointly prepared updated formal conservation advice for Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC. Further information is available on the Conservation Advice tab below.

 

Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge MPA

 

Status: Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

 

The Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge (IDRBNR) site is located off the south Lincolnshire coast, encompassing a wide range of sandbank types and biogenic reef.

 

Click to link to the interactive map

Map displaying MPA boundary* and

associated protected feature data.

Visit the JNCC MPA Mapper to further

view and explore data for this MPA.

*Margins are included within the "Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time" to account for uncertainty in feature extent on sandbanks that are known to be mobile. The margins can be viewed in the Annex I sandbank layer provided on the JNCC interactive mapper, however these margins are not displayed in Natural England's MAGIC interactive mapper.

 

This site lies across the 12nm territorial sea limit. Advice on this MPA is therefore jointly delivered with Natural England.

 

The main sandbank features of this MPA occur within the Wash Approaches, the Race Bank-North Ridge-Dudgeon Shoal system and at Inner Dowsing. The tops of the sandbanks are characterised by low diversity communities of polychaete worms and amphipod crustaceans. The trough areas between the sandbank features contain a diverse mosaic of biotopes on mixed and gravelly sands. Biogenic reef created by the ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa has consistently been recorded within the site. These reefs support a variety of bryzoans, hydroids, sponges and anemones as well as the common lobster Homarus gammarus and the commercially exploitable pink shrimp Pandalus montagui.

 

More detailed site information can be found on the Summary tab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legislation behind the designation: EU Habitats Directive 1992 transposed into UK law by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (territorial waters) and the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

 

Protected features

Features Feature Type Conservation Objectives
1170 Reefs Annex I Habitat* Maintain or restore to favourable condition
1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time  Annex I Habitat* Maintain or restore to favourable condition

*For the latest Annex I habitat resource figures, please see the link to the latest Habitats Directive Article 17 reporting in the Assessment tab.

 

The acquisition of new data may result in updates to our knowledge on feature presence and extent within this site. The most up to date information is reflected on the map on this page and in JNCC’s MPA mapper and the evidence underpinning this can be viewed in the Evidence tab.


Conservation objectives
The overarching conservation objectives for the designated features of all protected sites in UK offshore waters is to ensure they either remain in, or reach favourable condition. The ability of a designated feature to remain in, or reach favourable condition can be affected by its sensitivity to pressures associated with activities taking place within or in close proximity to a protected site. Specific information on the conservation objectives relating to this SAC is provided in the Conservation Advice tab.


Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of IDRBNR SAC. More detail can be found within the relevant documentation listed below.

 

Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC timeline


Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to IDRBNR SAC were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.  This Site Information Centre is the most up to date source of information for this MPA, and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced. Information about the SAC site selection process is available on the JNCC SAC pages.

 

  • Natura Standard Data Form – Details the SAC and the designated features.
  • SAC Selection Assessment Document – Overview of the SAC, designated features and rationale for site selection.
  • Site Improvement Plan - Overview of the current and predicted issues affecting the condition of the site's protected feature and outlines the priority measures required to improve the condition of the feature. It does not cover issues where remedial actions are already in place or ongoing management activities which are required for maintenance.
  • Post-consultation Report and Impact Assessment – Overview of the consultation outcomes, and an assessment of the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of the designation.

 



Summary

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Information for this site summary was adapted from the SAC Selection Assessment and incorporates any further information gathered since these documents were produced. Please refer to this document in the Relevant Documentation for further details and information sources.

 

Site overview
The IDRBNR site is located off the south Lincolnshire coast to the east of Skegness and extending eastwards and north from Burnham Flats on the North Norfolk coast. The site occupies The Wash Approaches. Water depths are generally shallow and mostly less than 30m. The area encompasses a wide range of sandbank types and biogenic reef formed by ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa. These features lay almost entirely on the glacial till (sediment deposited by glacial activity) of the Bolders Bank Formation which is responsible for much of the seabed topography.

The group of banks within the Wash Approaches are made up of fine to medium sands derived from coastal erosion processes following the last glacial retreat and marine inundation. Inner Dowsing is a sandbank to the west of the site comprising of coarse sand with some areas of gravel, with a distinctive elongate shape maintained by the tidal currents in the area. The Race Bank-North Ridge-Dudgeon Shoal sandbank system is an example of a sinusoidal sandbank that also has a complex pattern of smaller sandbanks associated with it. Together, this site and Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton SAC provide the only protection to offshore, headland-associated sandbank systems in the southern North Sea. The south-western edge of the IDRBNR site lies adjacent to The Wash and North Norfolk Coast SAC which protects sandbanks and biogenic reef in an inshore setting with a strong coastal influence, as well as estuarine, intertidal and shoreline habitats.

The tops of the sandbanks are characterised by low diversity communities dominated by polychaete worms and mobile amphipod crustaceans. The trough areas between these sandbank features are composed of mixed and gravelly sands, predominantly as veneers over glacial till. In these areas diverse mosaics of biotopes occur, which are dominated by the ascidian Molgula sp. along with a number of nemertean worms and polychaetes. Abundant ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa agglomerations have consistently been recorded within the site. Biogenic reefs formed by ross worm allow colonisation by other species not otherwise associated with adjacent, looser sediment habitats. Areas of high ross worm density support attached epifauna such as bryozoans, hydroids, sponges and anemones. Additional fauna also includes polychaetes, squat lobsters, crabs, the common lobster Homarus gammarus and notably the commercially exploitable pink shrimp Pandalus montagui. Further detail on the evidence for this SAC can be found on the Evidence tab.

 

Site location: Coordinates for this SAC can be found in the Natura 2000 Standard Data Form listed in the Relevant Documentation.

Site area: 845 km2. The IDRBNR SAC covers a similar area to the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Mull (875km2).

Site depth range: Depth at the site ranges from 1m below sea level to 70m below sea level.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Southern North Sea.

 

Site boundary description
The boundary around the IDRBNR site is a simple polygon enclosing the minimum area necessary to ensure protection of the Annex I habitats. The site contains sandbanks at depths of predominantly less than 25m, therefore a margin of 100m was used around each sandbank feature to protect them from the effects of mobile gear used on the seabed at some distance from the vessel on the surface.

 

Evidence

 

Last updated: November 2017

 

The full overview of the various data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in the IDRBNR SAC Selection Assessment Document. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to the JNCC Interactive MPA Map in due course. Some of the data for this SAC has been collected through JNCC funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means. Data from these surveys provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected features within the site.

 

Survey and data gathering

  • Southern North Sea Sandbanks Monitoring Survey (2017) Cruise Report - This collaborative survey between Cefas and JNCC covered three sites; Haisborough Hammond and Winterton SAC, Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC and North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef SAC. This cruise report details the operations carried out onboard the survey which was aimed to acquire monitoring data to contribute to the development of a monitoring time-series for these three sites. Reporting of the data is underway and will be made available in due course.
  • JNCC, Natural England and Cefas Joint Wash Survey to Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC and Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton SAC (2011) - This survey aimed to identify the location, extent and condition of Annex I habitat features at these two sites. Acoustic, video and stills, sediment and faunal samples were collected. Reporting is underway and will be made available in due course.

 

Data analysis reports

  • Benthic Survey of Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC and of Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton SAC (2013)  - Describes the analysis of results from the JNCC-NE-Cefas collaborative survey conducted in 2011. The survey aimed to identify the location, extent and condition of Annex I habitat features by collecting feature targeted acoustic sidescan, multibeam and groundtruthing data to provide the best available evidence on which to build a robust baseline. The report describes the findings of the dedicated 2011 surveys together with cruise reports (Whomersley et al., 2011) and additional information from the Humber and East Coast Regional Environmental Characterisation (REC) reports (Tappin et al., 2011; Limpenny et al., 2011).
  • Humber Regional Environmental Characterisation (2011) - A multidisciplinary marine study by Tappin et al. (2011) into the geology, biology and archaeology of the Humber area – an area of 11,000km2 off the east coast of England. SeaZone bathymetry data, three geophysical surveys and one sampling survey were used to characterise the environment on the seafloor at a large regional scale. The biological assemblage data was used to help determine the location and extent of the sandbank features in IDRBNR.
  • SeaZone Digital Survey Bathymetry and Coastal Digital Elevation Model (2009) - Bathymetric data was used by SeaZone Solutions Ltd. to map the base of sandbanks. The bathymetry provided good spatial coverage of the central and eastern parts of IDRBNR and the Coastal Digital Elevation Model provided supplementary data including coverage of the western part of the site. An accurate delineation of Annex I sandbank features was then undertaken using a slope analysis in GIS.
  • The “reefiness” of Sabellaria spinulosa in The Wash (2008) - A report by the Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee (Woo, 2008) on the results of a 2007 survey to the Inner and Outer Wash. The distribution of ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa was assessed using the RoxAnnTM Acoustic Ground Discrimination System. The 2007 survey built on previous years’ work, monitoring changes in the extent and nature of ross worm communities and gathering data to support the scoring of ross worm colony “reefiness”.
  • Outer Wash Site Summaries (2008) - An initial appraisal of the occurrence of Annex I sandbank habitat was completed on Natural England’s behalf by Entec in 2008. This work examined data from a variety of sources including windfarm and aggregate surveys, dedicated survey and modelling.
  • Summary of report on the data acquisition phase of the characterisation of possible marine SACs (outer Wash sandbanks and outer Thames Estuary) (2007) - An overview of surveys to identify Annex I interest features, undertaken by Entec in 2007. The report was commissioned by Natural England.

 

Additional relevant literature
Offshore industry operators in the Southern North Sea area have also provided data through Environmental Statements and monitoring survey reports. These, and references for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site, can be found in the SAC Selection Assessment Document. Please be aware that although these sources contain information which is of interest in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC:

  • Tappin, D.R., Pearce, B., Fitch, S., Dove, D., Gearey, B., Hill, J.M., Chambers, C., Bates, R., Pinnion, J., Diaz Doce, D.,Green, M., Gallyot, J., Georgiou, L., Brutto, D., Marzialetti, S., Hopla, E., Ramsay, E. and Fielding, H. (2011). The Humber Regional Environmental Characterisation. Marine Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund.
  • Woo, J. (2008). The “reefiness” of Sabellaria spinulosa in The Wash: a report on the results of the 2007 AGDS survey. Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee, King’s Lynn.

 

Knowledge gaps
If you are aware of any additional data or relevant scientific papers for this site not listed in the relevant documentation, or the IDRBNR Selection Assessment Document listed in the relevant documents section, please contact JNCC.

 

Conservation Advice

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

JNCC and Natural England have recently published formal conservation advice for Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC. This advice is accessible through Natural England’s Designated Sites System for Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC. The period to provide feedback on this advice has now closed. JNCC and Natural England have addressed the comments and feedback gratefully received and have produced the formal advice.

 

The formal advice reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by both Natural England and JNCC and must be taken into consideration when undertaking an assessment of the effects which a planned activity can have on the site’s integrity and when making decisions regarding management and consenting of marine activities in or near the site. For more information on JNCC’s approach to conservation advice please see the offshore Conservation Advice webpages. Information can also be found on Natural England's website.

 

Activities and Management

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Management status: Progressing towards being well managed

 

Impacts of licensable activities are regulated through licensing processes. Progress is ongoing with the recommendation of fisheries management proposals to the European Commission. Specific areas of the inshore portion of the site are, however, subject to a fisheries byelaw prohibiting the use of bottom-towed gear in order to protect the biogenic reef (Sabellaria spinulosa). There is currently limited condition monitoring available and therefore further progress will need to made to assess whether the site is moving towards or achieving its conservation objectives.

 

This site forms part of the UKs contribution to the OSPAR commissions network of MPAs, Europe’s Natura 2000 network and the Emerald network established under the Bern Convention. As the UK is a signatory to the OSPAR commission, JNCC are committed to ensuring that the OSPAR MPA network is ‘well-managed’ by 2020. The site straddles the 12nm limit. JNCC and Natural England have joint statutory responsibility to advise on the conservation of this site.

 

JNCC consider ‘well-managed’ to mean the timely progress of an MPA around the ‘MPA management cycle’. This involves:

1)    The documentation of appropriate management information - conservation objectives, advice on activities capable of affecting the protected features of a site, and spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected features of a site.

2)    The implementation of management measures - management actions considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of a site.

3)    Site condition monitoring programmes – collecting the information necessary to determine progress towards a sites conservation objectives.

4)    Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives – using available information to infer whether or not a site is moving towards or has achieved its conservation objectives.

 

The sub-sections that follow provide an account of the progress of Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC around each of the four stages in the MPA management cycle.

 

The documentation of appropriate management information

  • The conservation objectives and advice on activities capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected features of this site are available under the conservation advice tab.
  • JNCC and Natural England are in the process of improving our joint MPA conservation advice package for this site. Further information is available on our conservation advice pages.
  • Spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected features of this MPA are available via JNCC's MPA mapper.
  • JNCC are in the process of developing downloadable MPA data packages where appropriate permissions to share datasets are in place.

 

The implementation of management measures

This section details progress towards the implementation of management measures for activities considered capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected features of the site. The protected features of the site are considered to be sensitive to pressures associated with fishing and ‘licensable’ activities.

 

Fisheries

  • As this site crosses the 6-12nm limit, fisheries operating within the offshore portion of the site are subject to regulation under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The 6-12nm area has no historic rights of access for other Member States.
  • The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has created a byelaw to protect biogenic reef (ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa) in the inshore portion of the site by prohibiting the use of bottom towed fishing gear in specified areas of the site within the 12nm limit. Additional information on wider management measures which overlap the site are available on the Natural England Designated Sites System for this site.
  • In accordance with Article 18 of the revised CFP, requests for management within the offshore portion of the site will be developed jointly between the UK Government and any Member States with a direct management interest in the area affected.

 

Licensable activities

  • Two abandoned, explorative oil wells occur within the site, and four pipelines cross the north of the MPA.
  • There is substantial wind farm activity in this MPA, with operational wind farms (including Inner Dowsing, Lincs and Lynn) located in the Inner Dowsing sandbank and Lynn Knock area, with a combined capacity of 850 megawatts. Energy cables connect these wind farms to the Lincolnshire coast. A wind farm has also been consented in the Race Bank area.
  • Two areas licensed for aggregate extraction overlap with this MPA, a further area is currently under application.
  • Any activities or future proposals would have to comply with Article 6(3) of the EU Habitats Directive 1992, which is transposed into UK law in the offshore area by The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the inshore area by The Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
  • Our conservation advice supports the consents process by setting out the conservation objectives for the protected features of this MPA and advice on activities that may result in pressures to which the protected feature is considered sensitive.
  • Further information on JNCC's role in the provision of advice for licensed activities in the UK offshore area is available on JNCC's offshore industries advice webpage.

 

Shipping

  • There is low to moderate intensity commercial shipping in this area including cargo vessels, passenger vessels and port service craft. The pressures associated with shipping activity within Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC are not considered likely to impact the protected features of the site.
  • Under international law (UNCLOS, Article 17), ships have a right of innocent passage at sea, including in areas designated as MPAs.

 

Recreational activities

  • Royal Yachting Association racing areas, sailing areas and recognised cruising routes overlap with the site.

 

Wrecks

  • At least 31 wrecks have been recorded within the site.

 

Site condition monitoring

A baseline condition survey was undertaken in 2011 to identify the location, extent and condition of Annex I habitat features within Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton SAC and Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge SAC. Further information is provided in the evidence and monitoring tabs.

A site condition monitoring survey took place in 2016 to monitor and inform assessment of condition of the designated features. Further information will be made available under the monitoring tab in due course.

 

Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives

No long-term condition monitoring data is available to determine whether the MPA is moving towards or has reached its conservation objectives. Further information will be provided under the assessment tab as it becomes available.

 

Site Management

Management Plan:
JNCC is undertaking a review of management plan requirements for offshore MPAs. Further detail will be provided at a later date. The MMO have assessed all  European Marine Sites within their jurisdiction and created a strategic management table which summarises the overall level of risk facing this site and the management actions being taken forward.


Management Group: MPA Management National Steering Group

Further information on conservation advice in relation to this MPA can be found under the Conservation Advice tab.

 

Monitoring

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

MPA Monitoring

JNCC is currently leading on the development of a strategy for biodiversity monitoring across all UK waters, to include MPA monitoring. For MPAs, data and evidence collected from monitoring activities will aim to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Enable assessment of the degree to which management measures are effective in achieving the conservation objectives for the protected features;
  • Support the identification of priorities for future protection and/or management; and
  • Enable Government to fulfil its national and international assessment and reporting commitments in relation to MPAs and help identify where further action may be required.

 

Information on monitoring of this MPA will be provided when it becomes available.

 

Assessment

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Assessments of the condition of designated features in offshore MPAs are required to report against our legal obligations. Ideally these assessments should be based on observed data, and then measured against targets for predefined indicators. However, for MPAs in offshore waters we do not always have the appropriate information to be able to do so. This is particularly true for seabed habitats, which are the main type of feature designated for protection in offshore MPAs. 

 

To address these challenges, JNCC has been an active partner in the development of new approaches and tools for the assessment of habitats and species for a variety of national and international status reports. They include the second cycle of the Conservation Status Assessment reports under the EU Habitats Directive, Charting Progress 2 (CP2) and the OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR). JNCC continues to develop and pilot tools for the assessment of marine habitats and species in offshore waters to improve the quality and transparency of our offshore MPA assessments, and contribute to the monitoring of marine biodiversity in UK waters. These tools cover methods for producing interim assessments of site features and their responses to pressures, as well as developing more robust indicators for determining condition of the features.

 

Every six years, Member States are required under Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive to report on the Conservation Status of Annex I habitats and Annex II species on the Habitats Directive.  The assessments should consider the habitat or species both within the Natura 2000 network and in the wider sea.  The latest report was submitted by the UK in 2013 and provided a second assessment of the conservation status of relevant habitats and species within UK marine waters during 2007-2012. The next report is for the period 2013-2018 and is due in 2019; information on the condition of features within SACs will make a contribution to this report. The assessments of features within MPAs will also feed into six yearly reports on the state of the marine environment under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020.

 

 

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