Flamborough Head (England)


Name: Jean-Paul Ducrotoy, Deputy Director of IECS

e-mail address:

Proposed Primary Site:

PRISTINESS: Primary sites should be as free as possible from anthropogenic stressors, and natural stressors atypical of the region (e.g. reduced salinity, high turbidity).

List potential sources of pollution that are likely to impinge on the site:-

Industrial pollution:

The NERC Land Ocean Interaction Study (LOIS) (Stebbing et al 1998), which covered the area from the Wash to the Tweed and their catchments, together with JoNuS, the Joint Nutrient Study, recently illustrated the importance of the Yorkshire estuaries as both sinks for nutrients and sources to the North Sea (Scott et al., 1999). Due to the general pattern of circulation, the estuaries of the Tyne, Wear and Tees are most likely to be a source of pollutants in the Flamborough area. However, these industrial inputs do not extend far offshore and much of the metals are deposited within estuaries. Despite the ban on the usage of Tributyltin antifouling paints on pleasure crafts and vessels under 25 feet, there still seems to be a problem with TBT leachates in the water causing imposex in dogwhelks at North Landing and South Landing.

Agricultural pollution:

Changes in agricultural practice mean that land based sources of nutrients and pesticides are now reduced. Flamborough is not a vulnerable zone and there are high natural dispersion areas off Bridlington and Filey.


There are no mining operations in the area but a marine area seismic survey was carried out in autumn 1993. A seismic survey was carried out during February 1995 which involved the use of vibroseis vehicles on the foreshore around the southern section of the Headland, access was via Limekiln Lane, Danes Dyke and South Sanding. The vehicles were equipped with large flotation tyres which exert only a very low ground pressure and caused minimal damage to the structure of the rock. Any future seismic survey or exploration (improbable with regard to recent designations) will ensure that conflicting interests will be minimised by way of continuing dialogue with interested parties and a sensitive application towards work programming and operational methods.


Disposal of industrial wastes directly in the marine environment has now ceased (OSPAR). Dredge spoil, from maintenance of Bridlington harbour, has been dumped at a site approximately 3 km east of the harbour and 2 km south of South Landing in the vicinity of the Smithic Bank for several years. The dumping site was originally some distance further south of the harbour. The work is carried out to ensure that Bridlington Harbour can operate effectively, acting as a major economic resource for both the fishing and tourism industries. Material accumulates within the harbour as a result of the tidal processes, derived largely from erosion of the Holdemess coast and a very small input from the Gypsey Race. Conditions are attached to the annual consent to minimise any potential harmful effects arising from the disposal of the dredged material.


ARC Marine Ltd initially applied to the Crown Estate for a licence to prospect for sand and gravel over a large area including Filey Bay in 1990. Although the application was withdrawn in December 1990 and ARC agreed with the Crown Estates to prospect elsewhere, this prompted an independent survey of the area. Filey Against Dredging, funded by Filey Town Council and voluntary donations from local businesses, organisations and individuals, commissioned the Institute of Estuarine & Coastal Studies at Hull University to write a report of the physical, biological and socio-economic environment of Filey Bay. The report also included some original research into the possible effects that dredging in the area might have. No dredging is currently taking place.

What is the human population of the site in total and per unit area? What is the average population growth per year?

Bridlington (population in 1991: 32, 163) is the largest urban settlement adjacent to the study area. The smaller settlements (a few hundreds of inhabitants) of Flamborough, Bempton, Speeton, Reighton and Hunmanby, lie adjacent to the coast, but not on the Headland itself which has a very reduced human occupation rate. Population numbers are stable or decreasing.

Marine Safety is of prime importance with 2 coastguard stations, a lighthouse, fog station and the lifeboat station at South Landing.

How is sewage disposed of? If possible give an estimate of the quantity and quality of the output.

Small waste water discharges occur within the site, whilst there are two larger sewage treatment facilities adjacent to the site within Bridlington and Filey bays. The public sewerage system and sewage treatment facilities in the area are under the control of Yorkshire Water Service plc. Such activities comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. Secondary treatment plus ultra violet disinfection have recently been introduced throughout the Scarborough district. Storm discharges have been tackled.

Describe the extent of commercial fishing in the area. Please specify the kinds of gear used (trawling, seine netting, lobster pots etc.)

The area is an important inshore commercial fishing ground for whitefish (notably cod and sole), salmon and seatrout and shellfish (lobsters and crabs) which are exploited by fishermen from Bridlington, Filey and Scarborough and from much smaller bases at North and South Landings. Filey Bay is also an important nursery ground for plaice and (according to local fishermen) for sole, though this claim is not substantiated by MAFF scientists.

Traditional wooden cobles are still in use today by some fishermen, although they are now motorised. Most of the catch from all fisheries is sold to merchants who truck the fish to markets within the UK or, in the case of lobsters, to the continent. Some of the catch is sold locally; one or two Filey fishermen have their own retail outlets in the town, and crabs are sold locally at North Landing by Flamborough fishermen. Most fishing vessels in the area are active throughout the year. It is estimated that Filey Boats will be fishing for between 45 and 48 weeks of the year with the slackest period occurring in the first quarter of the year (IECS 1991). To sustain a year round fishing activity it is usually necessary to combine several different seasonal fisheries:

Types of fishing includes potting, trawling, static salmon netting, long lining mainly from cobles, keel boats and trawlers.

The white fish season generally starts in the autumn and lasts through the winter. Traditionally cod are taken but also sole, haddock, herring, angler (monk) fish, plaice, dabs, lemon sole and rays. Over the last few years the mid August spawning shoals of herring have increased. Fishermen have reported shoals of up to three and four square miles off the coast of Flamborough but mainly outside the Sensitive Marine Area. The herring attract a number of other fish which feed on them eg large shoals of cod and haddock.

Filey cobles fish on an area known as high rock, east of Filey Brigg and between Speeton and Bempton cliffs and around Flamborough Head. Bridlington cobles and fast workers regularly work their nets from the north side of Flamborough Head and 2 miles offshore round to Bridlington Bay (A Holmes, NESFC, 1994).

Lining is the traditional method of taking cod and ensuring a selective, high quality catch with little damage to non-target species. Long lining is very labour intensive requiring a shore crew of 2-3 people to skein the mussels (remove them from their shells), attach the snoods (short lengths of line) to the main line and bait the hooks. Each boats uses up to 12 lines and each line carries around 250 hooks. The fall in white fish landings in the 1980s, poor market prices since the late 1980s and an increase in costs associated with long line fishing has encouraged many boats to switch to netting.

White fish are generally taken by fixed nets (gill and trammel nets). A local byelaw prohibits the use of fixed nets during the summer months within the lOrn contour; fixed nets are mainly used during the autumn and winter months. In the winter the effort is concentrated mainly north of Flamborough Head and on 'Rock edge' for cod and whiting. In the summer the effort moves to the edge of the Sewerby to the Flamborough potting area targeting skate and sole, and on the rock edge for sole, skate, brill and rays. To the north of Filey Bay trammel ,~ netting is also carried out during the summer mainly for sole and sometimes cod. ,"

Trammel nets are not as selective as gill nets and subsequently non target species are often caught which t are of no direct economic value. The recent byelaw governing the use of fixed nets will help prevent f damage to marine species during the summer months.

Trawling is mainly conducted from keel boats using otter trawls which are towed along the sea bed. The nets are kept open by hydrofoils known as otter boards. Flamborough Head has traditionally been an important area for trawlers fishing from Scarborough and Bridlington. During the summer months ~ approx. 12 trawlers, including one beam trawler, work the Filey Bay area between Speeton and Bempton cliffs for the sole fishery .Off Flamborough Head, at certain times of the year, up to 40 trawlers may be seen working to within half a mile of the shore line. The main catch is cod, haddock and whiting. During August, large shoals of plaice move into the mussel beds and good landings of these are made for up to a six week period.

Lobster and crab fisheries occur along much of the English coast bordering the North Sea, however the main fisheries are off the coast of Northumberland, Yorkshire and Norfolk. Traditionally, fishing using creels (traps ) occurred within 6 nautical miles of the coast, but recently fishing off Yorkshire and Norfolk has extended out to 12 nautical miles. Landings of lobsters along the English North Sea coast (1988-89) exceeded 200 tonnes per annum and crab landings have averaged just over 1,600 tonnes per annum over the last 10 years (Doody et al, 1993 ). Trends have varied over this period, but it can not be deduced how much of the trend has been due to a change in stock abundance or a change in the fishing effort

Give an account of tourist activities in the area (how many tourists per year; what do they do?).

Tourism in the area is based on the natural (heritage) amenities of the coastal area supplemented by the human made developments at the major centres of Bridlington (5 miles), Filey (10 miles) and Scarborough (20 miles).

Flamborough Head’s natural beauty is reflected in the fact that in 1979, 19km of the coast from Speeton to Sewerby was designated as a Heritage Coast. There are a number of facilities for tourists including 2 golf courses, 9 caravan sites catering for 2,500 units, 7 car parks, 2 information centres at Bempton Cliffs (RSPB Centre) and at South Landing (Heritage Coast Centre), information notices, a lighthouse, scheduled ancient monuments, cafes, and well signposted pathways around the Headland. Despite these attractions the area is mainly used for informal outdoor recreation such as walking, bird watching, picnicking and general enjoyment of the scenery and beaches.

It is difficult to estimate the total number of visitors to the headland as there are no complete surveys of the area. The new RSPB centre which opened in 1990 attracted 56,652 visitors in 1993 and 48,860 visitors in 1994. The average number of visitors over 1990-1995 the last 5 years was 55,000 per year. Visitor numbers are also recorded at the Heritage Coast Information Centre at South Landing which is open from April to September. The numbers vary considerably, due not only to visitor numbers but also to the fact that the centre may open more often some years depending on funds. The general trend shows declining numbers as in the whole of East Yorkshire (C. Berry, 1997).

N umbers of visitors to the Heritage Coast Information Centre.








Total Visitors (Yearly)







Peak Numbers -(Spring Bank ~ Holiday)

N/ A

N/ A

N/ A




There is a general decline in visitors to the area. The most popular destination on the Headland is at the lighthouse which receives the highest number of cars. It may be that North Landing and Thomwick Bay also have large numbers, as the car parks are free and offer other facilities such as cafes. South Landing receives fewer visitors, due to its less popular position on the south side of the Headland.

The designated bathing beaches in the area include Flamborough North and South Landing and f Bridlington North and South Beaches. These pass the mandatory level of the EC Bathing Water Directive.

Provide evidence that there are no natural stressors such as high turbidity or reduced salinity that are atypical of the region.

The hydrophysical regime, especially wave exposure and tidal currents are the most important influences on the inshore ecology. In relation to the water circulation, the biodiversity of benthic intertidal and subtidal communities reflects substrata types which range from rock to mud (Allen, 2000).

There are no major freshwater inputs near Flamborough Head and the mean surface salinity is 34.3 (Lee & Ramster, 1981).

Changes in temperature between surface and bottom waters and between North and South constitute one of the most important oceanographical features of the site. During the summer months there is a marked difference in the water characteristics between the northern and southern North Sea. This boundary is clearly visible on satellite images and is known as the Flamborough Front. The boundary has a strong effect on the species present and those characteristic of both northern and southern areas are both found here. The resulting Flamborough front is at the origin of intense ecological processes inducing high biological diversity.

Flamborough Head has been placed at the boundary between two adjacent "coastal cells", suggesting it acts as a barrier to any sediment movement. However recent research (IECS, 1992 and 1994) would suggest that this boundary has been wrongly defined, as sediment movement does occur around Flamborough Head between Bridlington Bay and Filey Bay.

The benthic and littoral sediments have been surveyed and described by the British Geological survey and IECS. Movements of sediments are dominantly in the long shore direction with a net component between Fraisthorpe and Bridilington, but a net southerly movement south of Fraisthorpe. The northerly movement feeds Smithic Sand, a bank accumulating in the centre of the bay. Sediments derive from the erosion of the glacial tills of Hoderness (IECS, 1992).

Wave energy is high in this part of the North Sea, but waves form the South are dissipated by Smithick Sand. Large decreases in wave height are found for inshore areas. Coastal sites are moderately exposed to sheltered and the tidal stream range is negligible. Turbidity is influenced by the soft limestone and chalk rocks and overlying boulder clay of the North Yorkshire and Humberside shores. Underwater visibility ranges from 1 to 8 m in Summer.

The site is overall of an open coast physiographic type. The length of the coast around the Headland is 18 km with a bathymetry of 40 m maximum depth within a 3-mile limit. The salinity range makes the site a full marine site.

Give references to any chemical or physical data that support the claim that this is a pristine site.

In general, the waters and seabed around the headland appear to be relatively clean although turbidity can be high. There are no nearby river inputs, and sewage discharges are limited to small outfalls at Danes Dyke and at Thomwick Bay, which receive primary treatment. Other than the general influence of the North Sea, there is no major industrial discharge in the area or in its vicinity. The only industrial discharge is from the Muntons plc maltings factory at Bridlington. A treatment plant has been designed to make the quality of the discharge effluent compatible with European standards.

HABITATS: The site should comprise a mosaic of habitats in a well-defined area that are representative of the region.

List the range of habitats present at the site:-


Rock: present

Sand: present

Mud: present


Rock: present

Sand: present

Mud: present

Seagrass beds: not present, but seaweeds

Sublittoral chalk reef habitats extend offshore from the Headland for up to 6km or more and into water of 30 metres or more depth forming one of the most extensive sublittoral areas of chalk in Europe. These chalk reefs are distinctly different in biological character from other comparable areas of extensive rocky habitats in the North Sea and are more diverse than sublittoral chalk habitats further south.

The Cretaceous chalk cliffs are overlain by Quaternary glacial tills which make up the softer Holderness coast to the south of the study area. The chalk cliffs have weathered and eroded to form magnificent coastal scenery in the form of bays, caves, stacks and arches.

The shores of Flamborough Head are the most northerly outcrop of coastal chalk in the British Isles and represents about 14% of UK coastal chalk and nearly 9% of the coastal chalk exposure in Europe (English Nature 1995). Flamborough Head is perhaps the classic composite, sloping cliff, with a basal, near vertical section formed of Chalk and a more gently sloping till section above. The shores on the northern side of the headland are relatively steep, rugged and wave exposed and are backed by high vertical cliffs, whilst those on the southern side of the headland are less steep and more sheltered.

The Headlands geomorphology varies along its length as follows: .The Headland is flanked to the north and south by sandy bays.

The shores along Speeton consist of large chalk boulders for 2km. Along this stretch, rock falls and landslides are common.

North of Buckton and Bempton there are steep cliffs and the shores are only accessible by boat and have a high tide mark on the cliff face.

From Bempton cliffs to Flamborough Head there is a 4km stretch of rugged headlands where marine erosion along faults and joints in the cliffs has produced a magnificent display of coastal scenery of over 200 caves, coves, stacks and arches.

There are extensive bedrock platforms around Thornwick Bay, North Landing and Selwicks Bay. The platform gradually slopes seawards with stepped strata running perpendicular to the shore with substantial chalk outcrops forming pronounced terraces up to 2.5m high to the east and north of the headland (MNCR, 1995). As far as is known, the platform continues eastwards for 6 km into water of 30 metres or more depth, (Davies & Sotheran, 1995).

South and west of Selwicks Bay the cliffs are less steep than on the north side of the Headland and are being less actively eroded by the sea, this extends for 3km to Sewerby. The bedrock platform also extends offshore from this stretch and is overlain by cobbles and boulders and smaller patches of sediment.

There are a number of access points around the Headland, some of these are formed by natural valleys and some are man made. From north to south they are as follows: Speeton, Little Thornwick Bay, Thornwick Bay, North Landing, Selwicks Bay, High Stacks, South Landing, Danes Dyke and Sewerby Steps.

Littoral and cliff habitats include numerous large partly submerged cave systems. Many of these I caves and areas of north and east-facing cliffs support very rare microscopic chalk boring algal and lichen communities which are considered to be of international nature conservation importance.

Due to offshore currents the coastal waters are rich in plankton supporting important spawning and nursery grounds for fish and rich feeding areas for seabirds.

The cliffs are amongst the most important cliff-nesting seabird-colonies in Europe. Eight species of seabirds regularly breed on the cliffs: kittiwake, fulmar, gannet, herring gull, guillemot, razorbill, puffin and shag.

The north-facing shore of Flamborough head has been identified as being of international importance for its algal communities, particularly in the splash zone on the cliffs (extending 15-20 m above mean high water) and in caves (English Nature 1994; Tittley 1988). Wave-cut platforms are present on the more sheltered south side of the headland, where the chalk is softer. There are no bedrock outcrops and the terraces are lower, often being covered by boulders, cobbles and pebbles (mostly flint). On the southern side especially, a well developed kelp forest of Laminaria hyperborea extends down to a depth of 4 m. This species does not recur further south until the Dover Strait. A total of 112 algal species have been recorded form the shores around Flamborough Head, with the greater proportion from the more sheltered sites (George et al. 1988). Many species found at Flamborough Head have not been recorded from other chalk shores in Britain.

How representative is this site of its region (i.e. what regional habitats are missing)?

Flamborough Head represents the most northerly outcrop of coastal chalk in the British Isles and the southernmost area of rocky coastline in the northern North Sea. Flamborough Head represents about 14% of UK coastal chalk and nearly 9% of the coastal chalk exposure in Europe. Bordered by about 16km of high chalk cliffs with over 200 caves and numerous stack and arch formations, Flamborough Head contains extensive sublittoral and littoral chalk reefs of international conservation importance.

The area is characterised by several different biological habitats: the sandy beach of Bridlington and Filey Bay, the cliffs, sub littoral and subtidal rock platforms of Flamborough Headland and the subtidal sands of the inshore area, including the Smithic Bank. . Most habitats are represented. The subtidal benthic fauna of the chalk platform consists of species from both the northern and southern geographical distributions, providing a diverse faunal assemblage rich in communities of seaweeds and invertebrates

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The site should already be well-studied (i.e. biodiversity studies should not rely entirely on new research).

For what groups of organisms are comprehensive inventories available? Please list major taxa in each category below, and list publications.


Barne, JH, CF Robson, SS Kaznowska, JP Doody & NC Davidson (Eds.) 1995a. Coasts and Seas of the United Kingdom. Region 6 Eastern England: Flamborough Head to Great Yarmouth. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.

Barne, JH, CF Robson, SS Kaznowska, JP Doody & NC Davidson (Eds.) 1995b. Coasts and Seas of the United Kingdom. Region 5 North-east England: Berwick-upon-Tweed to Filey Bay. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.

Basford, Dj, DC Moore & AS Eleftheriou, 1996. Variations in benthos in the north-western North Sea in relation to the inflow of Atlantic Water, 1980-1984. ICES Journal of Marine Science, Vol.53, No.6: 957-963.

Hey, WC, 1894. Conchology: marine , land and freshwater shells. In: Flamborough: village and headland ( Andrews FRW, ed): 130-137.

Hull, SL, 1998. Assortative mating between two distinct micro-allopatric populations of Littorina saxatilis (Olivi) on the north-east coast of England. Hydrobiologia: 378: 79-88.

Hull, SL, J Grahame & PJ Mill, 1996. Morphological divergence and evidence for reproductive isolation in Littorina saxatilis (Olivi) in north east England. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 62: 89-99.

James, RE, M Elliott & J-P Ducrotoy, 2000. Sediments and biota of coastal sandy beaches. Coastal Zone Topics: Process, Ecology and Management

Johnson, LJ, 1999. The population dynamics and ecology of barnacle-dwelling Littorinids. Unpublished PhD thesis, University College Scarborough.

Covey, R. 1991. Benthic marine ecosystems in Great Britain: a eview of current knowledge. Eastern England and eastern Channel (MNCR Coastal sectors 6 and 7). Nature Conservancy Council, CSD Report, No. 1172. (Marine Nature Conservation Review Report, No. MNCR/OR/8.)

George, J.D., Tittley, I., Price, J.H., & Fincham, A.A. 1988. The macrobenthos of chalk shores in north Norfolk and around Flamborough Head (North Humberside). (Contractor: British Museum (Natural History), London.) Nature Conservancy Council, CSD Report, No. 833.

Grahame, J., Hull, S.L., Mill, P.J. & Hemmingway, R (1998). 'Realising unrecognised biodiversity in marine molluscs' In ‘ Marine Biodiversity’ (Eds.) R. Ormond, Gage J.A and Angel. Cambridge University Press. London

Hull, S.L., Scott, G.W. & Winter, L.J. (in press). Habitat heterogeneity, body size and colour polymorphism in Idotea granulosa (Isopoda). Journal of the Marine Biological Association, UK

Hull, S.L. & Rollinson, D (in press) Dynamics of rockpool assemblages – exposed versus sheltered shores . Journal of the Marine Biological Association

Rees, HL, 1979. Application of benthic community studies to pollution monitoring off the North-East coast of England. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of London.

Wood, E, 1988. Flamborough Head: sublittoral survey. Nature Conservancy Council, Peterborough, CSD Report, 832.


Cramp, TJ, 1985. The ecology of rocky shore marine nematodes. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

Hull SL, 1997. Seasonal changes in diversity and abundance of ostracods on four species of intertidal algae with differing structural complexity. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 161: 71-82.

Hull, SL, 1999. Comparison of tidepool phytal ostracod abundance and assemblage structure on three spatial scales. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 182: 201-208.

Hull, SL, 2000. Comparison of intertidal ostracod (Crustacea: Ostracoda) abundance and assemblage structure within and between four shores in north-east England. Journal of the Marine Biological Association, UK.

Hull, S.L. & Rollinson, D. (2000) Sex-biased colour polymorphism in the marine ostracod Paradoxostoma variabile. Journal of the Marine Biological Association, UK, 80, 69-73

Hull, S.L. & Rollinson, D. (2000) Clonal diversity and rockpool size in the marine ostracod Callistocythere badia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association, UK, 80, 551-552

Hull, S.L. & Rollinson, D (submitted) Seasonal and temporal changes in ostracod community shores. Crustaceana


Anderson CIH & GW Scott, 1998. The occurrence of distinct morphotypes within a population of Fucus spiralis. Journal of the Marine Biology Association of the United Kingdom, 79 1-4.

Hardy, FG & GW Scott, 1994. Seaweeds of the Yorkshire coast. The Phycologist, 38: 22-25.

George, JD, I Tittley, JH Price & AA Fincham. 1988. The macrobenthos of chalk shores in North Norfolk and around Flamborough Head (North Humberside). Nature Conservancy Council. CSD Report, 833.

Graham W. Scott, Susan L. Hull, Sarah E. Hornby, F. Gavin Hardy & Nick J.P. Owen (2001). Phentypic variation in Fucus spiralis (Phaeophyceae) morphology, chemical phenotype and their relation to the environment. European Journal of Phycology, 36, 43-50

Massee, G, 1885. Marine algae of the Scarborough district. Naturalist, 10: 300-306.

Moore, PG, 1973a. The kelp fauna of northeast Britain. I Introduction and the physical environment. J Exp. Mar. Biol and Ecol. 13 97-125

Moore, PG, 1973b. The kelp fauna of northeast Britain. II Multivariate classification: turbidity as an ecological factor. J Exp. Mar. Biol and Ecol. 13 127-163

Moore, PG, 1974. The kelp fauna of northeast Britain. III Qualitative and quantitative ordinations, and the utility of a multivariate approach. J Exp. Mar. Biol and Ecol. 16 257-300.

Norris, A, 1973. Report of field trips to Scarborough, South Bay, Thornwick Bay, Flamborough and Filey Brigg, 1972. Naturalist: 71-73.

Pearsall, WH & FA Mason, 1923. Yorkshire naturalists at Bridlington. Naturalist, 797: 205-212.

Perkins, D, 1953. <arine algae – seaweeds. In: The Natural history of the Scarborough District (Walsh GB & Rimington FC, eds): 67-80.

Philip, G, 1934. Plant associations of the shore near Falmaborough. Naturalist supplement, 384: 15-16.

Scott, GW & FG Hardy, 1994. Observations of the occurrence of hybrids between two sympatric species of Fucoid algae. Cryptogamie, Algologie, 15 (4): 297-305.

Scott, GW., Shaw, J., Hull, S.L., Burlak, A. & Pickaert, C. (1999) Some implications of plant size in monotypic and polytypic populations of Fucus spiralis. Journal of the Marine Biological Association, UK, 79, 359-360

Susan L. Hull, Graham W. Scott & Lisa J. Johnson (2001). An investigation of the genetic variation in four fucales species using cellulose acetate electrophoresis. Botanica Marina, 44, 119-123

Tittley, I, 1988. Chalk cliff algal communities: 2. Outside South Eastern England. Nature Conservancy Council, CSD Report, 878.

Tobin, M, J-P Ducrotoy & GW Scott, 1998. Applications of a functional group approach to algal community ecology. In: Scott GW & I Titley (eds), 'Changes in the Marine Flora of the North Sea', CERCI Report, 3: 135-147.

Tobin, M, J-P Ducrotoy & GW Scott, 1998. Applications of a functional group approach to algal community ecology. In: Scott GW & I Titley (eds), 'Changes in the Marine Flora of the North Sea', CERCI Report, 3: 135-147.


Harding, D & Nichols JH, 1987. Plankton surveys off the north-east coast of England in 1976: an introductory report and summary of the results. MAFF, Fisheries Research Technical Report 86.

List any other publications relating specifically to the biodiversity or environment at the site.

Alman S, 1999. Methodology and use of different data types in identifying intertidal biotopes. IECS MSc Thesis (jointly with Environment Agency)

Beadman H, 1999. The management of a complex site: Flamborough Head. IECS MSc Thesis (jointly with Flamborough Marine SAC Officer)

Chryssafi A., J-P Ducrotoy, R James, D Nichols, P Rastall, G Scott, J Tate, D Tucker & P Williams, 1994. The context of benthic marine studies on the Yorkshire Coast (England). CERCI Report, University College Scarborough, 1: 30 pp.

Elliott, M & MG O'Reilly, 1991. The variability and prediction of marine benthic community parameters. In: Elliott, M and J-P Ducrotoy (eds), 'Coasts and Estuaries: spatial and temporal comparisons', Olsen & Olsen, Fredensborg: 231-238.

Senior R, 1997. The stock enhancement and management of Yorkshire coast commercially-fished lobster populations. IECS MSc Thesis (carried out jointly with North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee)

Simpson S. & Ducrotoy J-P, 2000. Developments in the application of photography to ecological monitoring. Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems.

Tobin M, Scott GW & Ducrotoy J-P. Species based and functional group approaches to describing algal dominated communities. Submitted.

List publications relating to historical/time-series data at the site.

Allen, JH, 2000. The analysis and prediction of subtidal benthic communities of the eastern English Coast. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Hull.

Allen, J & M Elliott, 2000. The prediction of marine benthic community structure. Institute of Estuarine & Coastal Studies, University of Hull, unpublished manuscript.

Hardy, FG & GW Scott, 1996. The seaweeds of North-East England: A history of their study. Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, 57 (1): 45-57.

Hardy, FG, 1998. Changes in the open coast flora of North East England. In: Scott GW & I Titley (eds), 'Changes in the Marine Flora of the North Sea', CERCI Report, 3: 35-40.

Is biodiversity information available in electronic form? If so, what is the nature of the database (CD-ROM, web-site)?

A data-base exists in IECS but is not yet open for general access.

PROTECTION STATUS: The pristine nature of the site should be protected by legislation if it is to be a "flagship site" for future monitoring.

What conservation legislation (national, European, international) is currently in place, how well is it implemented and how long will it last?

Flamborough Head & Bempton Marshes, North Yorkshire, were designated a Ramsar site in 1993. Ramsar sites are statutory areas designated by the UK government on the advice of the conservation agencies under the Ramsar Convention (the Convention on wetlands of international importance especially as waterfowl habitat).

The 1979 EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (the Birds Directive) requires member states to take conservation measures particularly for certain rare or vulnerable species and for regularly occurring migratory species of birds. In part this is achieved through the designation of statutory Special Protection Areas (SPAs) by the UK government on the advice of the statutory conservation agencies. This designation is implemented through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; all SPAs must first be notified as SSSIs. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are one of the tools to be used to implement the 1992 EC Habitats Directive. They are areas considered to be important for habitat and non-avian species of interest in a European context. Flamborough Head has been proposed as a proposed Coastal/Marine SAC/SPA.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are statutorily notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are intended to form a national network of areas, representing in total the parts of Britain in which the natural features, especially those of greatest value to wildlife conservation or earth science conservation, are most highly concentrated or of highest quality. Each SSSI represents a significant fragment of the much-depleted resource of wild nature remaining in Britain. Within the area of an SSSI the provisions of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and its 1985 amendments aim to ensure that actions damaging to the conservation interest of the area are not carried out.

Flamborough Headland (NZ668216-TA036909) was also designated as a Heritage Coast site in 1974. A Heritage Coast is an area selected for having a coastline of exceptionally fine scenic quality; exceeding 1 mile in length; substantially undeveloped and containing features of special significance and interest. This non-statutory protection is agreed between local authorities and (in England) the Countryside Commission, as an aid to local authorities in planning and managing their coastlines.

Flamborough Headland have been designated Sensitive Marine Areas (SMAs) in 1994. SMAs are non-statutory marine areas that are nationally important and notable for their marine plant and animal communities or which provide ecological support to adjacent statutory sites. They are identified by the statutory conservation body English Nature, with a further aim of raising awareness and disseminating information to be taken into account in estuarine and coastal management planning. These areas rely on the co-operation of users and local communities for sustainable management, with the help of grant aid. SMAs are the more commonly used term for areas described in previous technical documents (e.g. Important areas for marine wildlife around England (English Nature 1994a)) as ‘Important Areas for Marine Wildlife’ under English Nature’s initiative Managing England’s marine wildlife (English Nature 1994b).

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has substantial non-statutory reserve holdings and currently manages over 130 reserves (84,000 ha) in Britain (RSPB 1993) such as the one found at Bempton Cliffs.

None of the current designations are short or medium term.

FACILITIES: The infrastructure for biodiversity research should be available. There should also be a national commitment in terms of financing and scientific activity (i.e funding should not be entirely dependent on the success of any future EU programme).

The Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies (IECS) was founded in 1982 as a multi-disciplinary research and consultancy organisation combining the international expertise in coastal science and management as well as excellent research facilities within the University of Hull. A new branch of IECS was opened on the Scarborough Campus of the University of Hull in August 2001 at the Scarborough Centre for Coastal Studies. The Institute is a member of the National Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control (NMBAQC) scheme providing quality assurance in its areas of research.

A large component of IECS work is subtidal and intertidal benthic research, including field surveys, subsequent taxonomic identification and multi-variate statistical analysis. Components of these studies include benthic seabed surveys using grab samplers, underwater video, acoustic mapping techniques, plankton and fish trawl surveys.

IECS undertakes estuarine and marine fish surveys examining their migratory, nursery and feeding ecology. We also investigate the scientific and socio-economic aspects of anthropogenic impacts on fish and fisheries, including stock assessment, fish impingement studies and fish trawl surveys.

Applied research into the relationships between birds and the coastal environment is carried out by our specialist ornithological team. Surveys of estuarine and coastal bird populations and their ecology are carried out from land based locations, whilst marine surveys are conducted from boat and aircraft survey platforms.

Work for statutory UK conservation bodies includes the mapping of subtidal and intertidal biotope communities, the characterisation (and modelling) of seabed habitats, establishing management strategies for important conservation species and deriving robust survey strategies for the monitoring of habitats.

Work with many industry sectors providing expert advice and research on the potential impacts from developments and operations in intertidal and subtidal environments, both in terms of the ecological (invertebrate fauna, fish and birds) and physical (hydrographic regime, sediment transport, water quality and organic inputs) systems. The deployment of sentinel organisms and laboratory-based bioassays have been conducted to investigate and monitor the by-products of industrial process water, and the minimisation of effluent discharges through process refinement.

Full EIAs have been carried out for many coastal activities including flood defence works, oil & gas exploration, marine aggregate extraction, power generation and port development. Expert input into the aquatic ecological impact components of the EIA can also be provided.

IECS offers a taught MSc and Diploma course in Estuarine and Coastal Science and Management to provide a multidisciplinary background to all aspects of the estuarine and coastal environment. The Institute also organises workshops, seminars and symposia, and has developed remote interactive teaching modules for aspects of the marine environment.

IECS offers a range of services in this area, with reviews of EU legislation, the marine legislation framework in different countries and the science used in policy making in the North Sea.

The Institute both co-ordinates and participates in European funded research programmes, having recently managed large projects involving over 30 partner organisations from academic, consultant and governmental agencies in 13 countries. IECS also carries out applied research for institutions and the industrial sector along the continental Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean and Aegean coastal margins.

Statutory environmental protection and conservation agencies, the European Union, UK Government marine agencies, Natural Environment Research Council, port authorities, the British Council, water services companies, local municipal authorities, engineering and environmental consultancies, Rijkswaterstaat (NL), industrial sector clients including petrochemical, power generation and dredging industries.

How accessible is the location?

Access to much of Flamborough Head is limited by the steep cliffs on the north and the south-east facing shores. This is in contrast to Thomwick Bay, North Landing, Selwicks Bay, South Landing and Sewerby Rocks where there is easier access. Access to each of these sites is by steps or ramps onto the upper shore.

Is it limited seasonally (e.g. not accessible in winter)?


Is it accessible by car or by boat (indicate means of transport and distance from laboratory facilities in km)?

Car and boat.

30km from Scarborough – 36km from Hull

What is the status of local facilities:-


Laboratory Facilities (Hull & Scarborough Campuses):

- complete sieve nest & autoshaker
- drying ovens & muffle furnace
- Coulter Counter
- Malvern Mastersizer laser diffraction particle size analyser

Desktop Facilities:


Are these facilities available for guest researchers?

Yes, to be arranged in advance

What facilities are there for SCUBA diving?

The University of Hull runs an active Diving Club. A Scarborough branch of the club is being established. There are local sub aqua clubs at Bridlington, Driffield, Filey and Scarborough. The main diving area is between North Landing and Flamborough head with a launch site at South Landing.

What housing is available?

Storage of marine equipment takes place on the Hull and Scarborough Campuses.

List the sources of funding currently in place specifically for biodiversity research at this site (from where and how much).

English Nature is currently (autumn 2001) co-ordinating the following studies:

Sea cave inventory £14,000

Intetidal mapping £ 12,000

Subtidal acoustic survey £24,000

The Environment Agency is co-ordinating:

Modeling work £25,000

List by name the persons currently involved in biodiversity research at this site, their roles and the percentage of their time spent on this research.


Research assistant SCCS




Biologist IECS




Reader IECS




Senior Lecturer IECS




Research fellow IECS




Biologist IECS



Graham Scott

Lecturer SCCS



Sue Hull

Lecturer SCCS



Collin SCOTT

Biologist IECS



Michelle TOBIN

Lecturer SCCS




Please use this section to add any additional supporting comments, for example what do you think is special about your site from the biodiversity point of view, why is it important to monitor biodiversity there, and what is the public awareness of this?

Within this region of Great Britain certain species are ‘nationally rare’ or ‘scarce’ because they are north Atlantic/sub-Arctic species at the margins of their distribution in Great Britain. It has been argued that populations of many sessile (non-mobile) southern species have a poor capacity for recovery and recruit (reproduce) slowly at the margins of their distribution and are therefore particularly vulnerable to even the most minor, infrequent damage. Communities of southern species have therefore been considered important as reference sites for monitoring the marine environment (Fowler & Laffoley 1993). This argument may also be applicable to northern species at the limit of their distribution in Great Britain. Other genetic, ecological and pragmatic arguments for the conservation of species that are rare because they are at the margins of wider distributions have been put forward (see Hunter & Hutchinson 1994).

DUCROTOY J-P, 1998. Qualité écologique des milieux estuariens et littoraux : Apllication à la Manche et à la mer du Nord. Thèse d'Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches, 2 volumes, Université de Caen.

Part o the thesis is on Flamborough Head.