Protected area type: Special Protection Areas
Feature type: 
  • Species
  • Marine
  • Antrim
  • Down
Council: Ards and North Down
Guidance and literature: Special Protection Area - Belfast Lough

Belfast Lough is a large intertidal sea lough situated at the mouth of the River Lagan on the east coast of Northern Ireland. The inner part of the lough comprises a series of mudflats and lagoons. The outer lough is restricted to mainly rocky shores with some small sandy bays.

In the outer lough, the Special Protection Area boundary is entirely coincident with that of Outer Belfast Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest. However, within the immediate harbour area, the boundary has been redrawn to take into account permitted port related development and landfill, which has taken place since the Inner Belfast Lough ASSI was declared in 1987.

Marine areas below mean low water are not included. The Special Protection Area boundary is entirely coincident with that of the Belfast Lough Ramsar Site map.

The site qualifies under Article 4.2 of EC Directive 79/409 on the Conservation of Wild Birds by regularly supporting internationally important numbers of redshank in winter.

The site also regularly supports nationally important numbers of shelduck, oystercatcher, purple sandpiper, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, curlew and turnstone. Belfast Lough as a whole is also used by several other waterfowl species including great crested grebe , scaup, eider, goldeneye and red-breasted merganser.

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