The Copeland Islands site comprises three islands (Copeland Island, referred to as Big Copeland, together with Light House Island and Mew Island), together with associated islets, off the north-east County Down coast and close to the entrance to Belfast Lough.
The site encompasses the islands down to the low water mark, excluding buildings and associated structures. It includes rocky shores together with limited areas of sand/mud and cobble/boulder beaches. Terrestrial habitats include saltmarsh, freshwater marsh, maritime grassland, limited extent of inland cliff and semi-improved agricultural grassland.
The principal interests are the breeding colonies of Manx shearwater and Arctic tern. The boundary of the Special Protection Area site is entirely coincident with the Copeland Islands Area of Special Scientific Interest.
The site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting nationally important populations of Arctic tern and under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting internationally important populations of Manx shearwater.