River Spey

Site details

UK map showing location of River Spey Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of River Spey 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

Not applicable

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

Not applicable.

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

1029 Freshwater pearl mussel  Margaritifera margaritifera
The River Spey is a large Scottish east coast river that drains an extensive upland catchment and supports an outstanding freshwater pearl mussel population in its middle to lower reaches. In parts of the River Spey, extremely dense mussel colonies have been recorded (225 m2) and the total population is estimated at several million. As the population also shows evidence of recent recruitment and a high proportion of juveniles, the River Spey is considered to support a pearl mussel population of great international significance.
1095 Sea lamprey  Petromyzon marinus
The River Spey represents the sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus in the northern part of its range in the UK. It is absent from rivers north of the Great Glen, and the River Spey is virtually at the northern limit for this species. Recent surveys show that sea lamprey larvae are widely distributed throughout the middle and lower reaches of the river, where the particularly fast-flowing waters of the River Spey provide ideal spawning conditions for this species. In addition, as an unpolluted and relatively little modified system, the River Spey matches the other key habitat requirements of the sea lamprey in terms of good water quality, clean gravels and marginal silts and an unhindered migration route to the sea.
1106 Atlantic salmon  Salmo salar
The Spey supports one of the largest Atlantic salmon Salmo salar populations in Scotland, with little evidence of modification by non-native stocks. Adults spawn throughout virtually the whole length of the river, and good quality nursery habitat is found in abundance in the main river and numerous tributaries. Salmon in the Spey system are little affected by artificial barriers to migration, and the waters in the catchment are largely unpolluted (the river is oligotrophic throughout its length). For a system of its size, the Spey is also relatively free from flow modifications such as abstractions, diversions and impoundments. The salmon population includes fish of all ages including migrating smolts and returning adults, possibly reflecting genetic differences within the Spey stock.
1355 Otter  Lutra lutra
The Spey represents an important otter Lutra lutra site in Scotland, with good quality freshwater habitat. Surveys have identified high levels of otter presence throughout the Spey catchment. Riverine habitat features which are known to be important to otters are present, such as reedbeds and islands, and populations of important prey species are relatively healthy. The persistence of a strong population of otter on this river indicates that habitat conditions are particularly favourable for the survival of the species.

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

Not applicable.

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