Renfrewshire Council

Nature Conservation

Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

Special Protection Areas are designated as part of the UK's nature conservation responsibilities under European law. 

They are part of the network of Natura 2000 protected sites and support nationally or internationally important numbers of birds. 

In Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage make the designations of Special Protection Areas for the Scottish Government on the basis of scientific surveys. More information on SPAs is available from the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

In Renfrewshire, there are three designated SPAs:-

  • Black Cart located north of Glasgow Airport, this is a roost site and foraging area for wintering Icelandic whooper swans.
  • Inner Clyde Estuary - this is located downstream from Newshot Island, Erskine. It is an area of intertidal mudflats and saltmarsh used as feeding grounds by wintering waterfowl.
  • Renfrewshire Heights - this SPA lies north of Lochwinnoch in the Renfrewshire Hills, and is a breeding area for hen harriers.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI or 'triple SI')

The main purpose of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI or 'triple SI') system is to make sure that decision-makers including landowners,managers, local authorities and the government, are aware of natural heritage interests when considering developing or changing the use of land.

SSSIs are sites which are special for their:

  • plants
  • animals
  • habitats
  • rocks
  • landforms

SSSIs are designated by Scottish Natural Heritage after detailed scientific survey. There are 1,425 SSSIs in Scotland, eleven of which are in Renfrewshire. 

More information on SSSIs is available from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Renfrewshire's Sites of Special Scientific Interest

The following SSSIs lie within Renfrewshire Council area, you can view these sites on the SNH website.  A link is provided under related links. :

  • Barmufflock Dam west of Bridge of Weir: a basin mire with a range of habitats, including open mire, swamp and wet woodland.
  • Black Cart (also a special protection area - see above) north of Glasgow Airport: roost site and foraging area for wintering Icelandic whooper swans.
  • Castle Semple and Barr Lochs Lochwinnoch: lowland wetland and fringing woodland which provide nesting and wintering habitat for a wide range of bird species.
  • Clochodrick Stone north-east of Lochwinnoch: an unusually large glacial erratic boulder.
  • Dargavel Burn north of Kilmacolm: active area of valley mire.
  • Formakin west of Bishopton: a dry herb-rich grassland.
  • Glen Moss east of Kilmacolm: a mixed basin and valley mire with important peatland habitat.
  • Inner Clyde (also a Special Protection Area - see above) downstream from Newshot Island, Erskine: intertidal mudflats and saltmarsh used as feeding grounds by waterfowl.
  • Shovelboard east of Kilmacolm: a small basin mire with a drier central area.
  • Renfrewshire Heights (also a special protection area - see above) is situated north of Lochwinnoch in the Renfrewshire Hills and is a breeding area for hen harriers.
  • Whinnerstonis located to the South of Bridge of Weir and comprises two areas of unimpaired natural grassland.  The grassland's one of the largest and best examples of this type of habitat in West Central Scotland.

The Council's register of SSSIs contains plans and further information about each one. This is available for inspection at the Planning office. If you want to visit an SSSI, take great care to avoid disturbance and damage.

Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)

The Council have identified a number of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) from a habitat survey of Renfrewshire. 

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