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Site Condition and Advice

Condition Assessments

Condition assessments appraise the 'condition' of designated site features by assessing key attributes against a set of habitat or species-specific targets. Natural England use this process to monitor designated sites. The assessments are a collation of data and evidence from a variety of sources including Natural England monitoring programmes, citizen science projects, academic institutions, designation verification surveys, casework history, and activities and pressure mapping. There are six reportable condition categories: favourable, unfavourable recovering, unfavourable no change, unfavourable declining, part destroyed and destroyed. Individual condition assessments can be viewed on Natural England's Designated Sites System.

The Natural England condition assessment for the Solent Maritime SAC found the condition of its features (estuary, mudflat and sandflats, sandbanks) to be unfavourable primarily due to elevated nutrients in the water, sediment contaminants and non-native invasive species. The condition of the coastal lagoons within the Solent Maritime SAC and Solent and Isle of Wight Lagoons SAC is favourable.

Currently there are no condition assessments for the Solent's SPAs, but a methodology has been agreed and in 2023 Natural England will assess Portsmouth Harbour SPA, followed by Chichester and Langstone Harbour SPAs.  In 2024 they will assess Solent and Southampton Water SPA. However, all the SSSI components of the Solent's SPAs have been assessed, and their condition can be used as a proxy whilst the SPA assessments are undertaken.  There are a number of unfavourable conditions within these SSSIs primarily due to water quality (elevated nutrients).

The published condition assessments/reports for sites in the Solent are:

Conservation Advice

Natural England has a statutory responsibility to provide conservation advice for all Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within English territorial waters (Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Ramsar Sites and Marine Conservation Zones). These packages and associated supporting documents help with site assessments and detail the impact of marine activity in sensitive areas. In recent times Natural England has also added terrestrial drivers into its advice on adverse condition/condition threat that reflect how land based activity can impact on coastal designated sites. For example, in the Solent Maritime SAC drivers now include forestry, freshwater inputs and agriculture.

Conservation advice packages for the Solent's Marine Sites are listed below. 

Site Improvement Plans (SIP)

A SIP provides a high level overview of the issues (both current and predicted) affecting the condition of the Natura 2000 features on the site(s) and outlines the priority measures required to improve the condition of the features. It does not cover issues where remedial actions are already in place or ongoing management activities which are required for maintenance. They outline the priority measures needed to achieve and maintain the European species and habitats within a site in favourable condition. The SIP consists of three parts: a summary table, which sets out the priority issues and measures; a detailed actions table, which sets out who needs to do what, when and how much it will cost; and a set of tables containing contextual information and links.