The new SPA, which encompasses more than 147,000 hectares, extends from Haltwistle and Hexam in the north to Skipton and Harrogate in the south, and includes extensive areas of semi-natural moorland and upland grasslands which support populations of moorland breeding birds of national and European importance. Species whose habitats are being safeguarded include the Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin and Golden Plover. The site also includes 17 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

“I am delighted to be able to announce the classification of the North Pennine Moors as the largest Special Protection Area for birds in the UK,” said Environment Minister Bob Ainsworth. “This is excellent news for the North Pennine Moors, and the bird populations that breed on the site. By designating important bird habitats as SPAs the government is fulfilling its commitments to safeguarding rare and endangered birds.”

The new designation brings the number of SPAs in the UK to 231, covering over one million hectares.

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