June 28, 2008

Protection Areas May Be Extended Out to Sea

By Jenny Haworth

PROTECTION areas for puffins and other treasured seabirds could be extended out to sea under new plans.

Special Protection Areas stop at the coastline, but under new Scottish Government plans 31 of the sites would extend up to two and a half miles out to sea to protect birds on the water, as well as on the land.

Seabirds such as puffins, gannets and guillemots use the water for feeding, preening and display during breeding. The sites that might be extended include Ailsa Craig, Bass Rock and St Kilda.

It would mean that plans from developers hoping to build new pipelines, fish farms or other sea-based structures would have to go through a more rigorous planning process.

Richard Lochhead, the environment secretary, said: "The proposal to extend these sites out to sea will address local issues that could have an impact on seabird colonies, such as new developments in coastal waters."

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