Orfordness - Shingle Street

Site details

UK map showing location of Orfordness - Shingle Street Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Orfordness - Shingle Street 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

1150 Coastal lagoons  * Priority feature
Note: not a marine feature as occur landward of Highest Astronomical Tide Orfordness – Shingle Street encompasses a series of percolation lagoons on the east coast of England, and, together with Benacre to Easton Bavents and The Wash and North Norfolk Coast, forms a significant part of the percolation lagoon resource concentrated in this part of the UK. The lagoons at this site have developed in the shingle bank adjacent to the shore at the mouth of the Ore estuary. The salinity of the lagoons is maintained by percolation through the shingle, although at high tides sea water can overtop the shingle bank. The fauna of these lagoons includes typical lagoon species, such as the cockle Cerastoderma glaucum, the ostracod Cyprideis torosa and the gastropods Littorina saxatilis tenebrosa and Hydrobia ventrosa. The nationally rare starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is also found at the site.
1210 Annual vegetation of drift lines
Orfordness is an extensive shingle spit some 15 km in length and is one of two sites representing Annual vegetation of drift lines on the east coast of England. In contrast to Minsmere to Walberswick Heaths and Marshes, drift-line vegetation occurs on the sheltered, western side of the spit, at the transition from shingle to saltmarsh, as well as on the exposed eastern coast. The drift-line community is widespread on the site and comprises sea beet Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima and orache Atriplex spp. in a strip 2-5 m wide.
1220 Perennial vegetation of stony banks
Orfordness is an extensive shingle structure on the east coast of England and consists of a foreland, a 15 km-long spit and a series of recurves running from north to south on the Suffolk coast. This spit has been selected as it supports some of the largest and most natural sequences in the UK of shingle vegetation affected by salt spray. The southern end of the spit has a particularly fine series of undisturbed ridges, with zonation of communities determined by the ridge pattern. Pioneer communities with sea pea Lathyrus japonicus and false oat-grass Arrhenatherum elatius grassland occur. Locally these are nutrient-enriched by the presence of a gull colony; elsewhere they support rich lichen communities. The northern part of Orfordness has suffered considerable damage from defence-related activities but a restoration programme for the shingle vegetation is underway.

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

Not applicable.

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

Not applicable.

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.