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Solent EMS Sites

The Solent contains seven international nature conservation sites: a maritime Special Area of Conservation (SAC); 3 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and 3 Ramsar sites. These designations have varying levels of overlap. The areas within these designations that lie below Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT) have become known collectively as the Solent European Marine Sites (Solent EMS). The illustrative map shows the areas of the SACs, SPAs and Ramsar sites that are included in the SEMS.


Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation

The Solent Maritime SAC has been selected for the following habitats:

Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites

There are three Special Protection Areas and three Ramsar sites within the Solent.

The Solent and Southampton Water SPA and Ramsar site boundaries differ in places, however the boundaries for the Portsmouth Harbour and Chichester and Langstone Harbour SPA and Ramsar sites are concurrent.

Chichester and Langstone Harbours SPA/Ramsar

Chichester and Langstone Harbours SPA has been selected for the following:

Chichester and Langstone Harbours Ramsar site has been selected for the following:

Solent and Southampton Water SPA/Ramsar

Solent and Southampton Water SPA has been selected for the following:

Solent and Southampton Water Ramsar site has been selected for the following:

Portsmouth Harbour SPA/Ramsar

Portsmouth Harbour SPA has been selected for the following:

Portsmouth Harbour Ramsar site has been selected for the following:

A further marine SAC is present adjacent to the SEMS, known as South Wight Maritime SAC. This has been selected for intertidal and subtidal reefs, vegetated sea cliffs and sea caves. A separate management scheme is being progressed for the South Wight Maritime SAC. There is an area of overlap between the SEMS and the South Wight SAC at Bembridge and it will be important that this is taken into account during the production of both management schemes.


The main aim of the Solent EMS designations is to provide a stronghold for habitats and species through appropriate management measures achieved by co-operation between the relevant regulating authorities, land owners, industries and public who use the site. Any management of the site will take into account the economic, cultural, social and recreational needs of the local people. Where new plans and projects are proposed these will be subject to the special provisions in the Regulations. Ongoing activities will be considered through the management scheme for the site.

Plans and Projects In general any action which requires an application to be made for specific statutory consent, authorisation, licence or other permission is considered as a plan or project.

Activities Activities are those actions that are not plans or projects. They may be controlled or managed by competent authorities on a continuing basis or may fall outside of any jurisdiction.

Management of the Solent EMS is concerned with promoting the sustainable use of a living, working coast. The aim is not to stop people using the Solent and for most people the designations make very little difference to day-to-day life. There is no intention to exclude traditional human activities, these will only be managed if it is shown that they are causing damage to the habitats or species for which the site has been designated. It is likely that most activities do not do this and so will not be affected, or if they have the potential to do so are already managed in a way so as to prevent damage.