1000 Tyres Project


The estuary and rivers in the Tamar waterway are a designated Marine Protected Area so care has to be taken not to disturb protected species and habitats when removing marine litter from the seabed and foreshore. Seagrass (Zostera marina) grows in sheltered and shallow areas so removal of litter from these areas can only be done if it does not disturb the seagrass. Plymouth Sound is also the last resting place of two historic shipwrecks of national importance and more than 20 crashed military aircraft.

Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Marine Protected Area (MPA)

The term ‘Marine Protected Area’, or MPA, as a general way of describing the Plymouth Sound & Tamar Estuaries marine site because it is protected (designated) under multiple pieces of European and UK legislation relating to the natural environment, and the designations are listed below.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ)

Tamar Estuaries Sites MCZ

The Tamar Estuary Sites Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) provides sheltered habitats which are subject to various salinity levels and tidal exposures. This diverse estuarine environment supports a number of features of ecological importance, including coarse sediments on the shore and biogenic reefs formed by the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis). These living reefs are ecologically important as they provide a home for numerous species including seaweeds and animals such as sponges, barnacles, winkles and crabs. Areas of biogenic reef exposed at low tide provide a feeding ground for birds, whilst submerged areas are used by predators and scavengers like fish and crabs.

The site is particularly important as it is the only MCZ where the migratory fish the European smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) is protected. The MCZ is also home to the native oyster (Ostrea edulis), a species which experienced significant declines during the 20th century in European waters.

The site is made up of two separate areas; one in the Lynher estuary and the other encompassing part of the Tamar and Tavy estuaries.

Legislation: Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (UK).

Further information link what3words

Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

Plymouth Sound and Estuaries SAC

Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is located on the south coast of England and straddles the border between Devon and Cornwall. The 64 km² site encompassing Plymouth Sound and its associated tributaries comprise a complex site of marine inlets. The high diversity of reef and sedimentary habitats, and salinity conditions, give rise to diverse communities representative of ria systems and some unusual features. These features include abundant southern Mediterranean-Atlantic species rarely found in Britain. It is also the only known spawning site for the allis shad (Alosa alosa).

Qualifying habitats:

1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time

1130 Estuaries

1160 Large shallow inlets and bays

1330 Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae)

1140 Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide

Fuirther information link what3words

Special Protection Area (SPA)

Tamar Estuaries Complex

The Tamar Estuaries Complex Special Protection Area (SPA) comprises the estuaries of the rivers Tamar, Lynher and Tavy. The Tamar river and its tributaries provide the main input of fresh water into the estuary complex, and form a ria (drowned river valley) with Plymouth lying on the eastern shore.

Qualifying features: Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), non-breeding; Little egret (Egretta garzetta), non-breeding.

Legislation: EC Birds Directive 1979 (European), The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (UK).

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Tamar-Tavy Estuary (Ecological SSSI) what3words

Tamar-Tavy Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is located in the far north west of Plymouth, from the Tamar Bridge upstream and includes Tamerton Creek. The SSSI extends beyond Plymouth's administrative boundaries to the limits of tidal influence in both the Tamar and the Tavy.

Plymouth Sound, shores and cliffs (Geological SSSI) what3words

Plymouth Sound, shores and cliffs Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covers the eastern side of Plymouth Sound from Mount Batten Point southwards to Andurn Point. Jennycliff Bay lies within Plymouth and the site extends into the South Hams including Bovisand Bay.

Lynher Estuary SSSI

St John's Lake SSSI

Wembury Point SSSI

Yealm Estuary SSSI

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Tamar Valley National Landscape what3words

South West Devon National Landscape what3words

Protected Wreck Sites

Two historic shipwrecks are designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973:

Coronation Offshore Site what3words

Cattewater Wreck what3words

Crashed Military Aircraft

More then 20 military aircraft crashed in Plymouth Sound. All aircraft in UK waters that have crashed during military service are protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

Further information link what3words

Last updated 22 May 2024

Click the images for a larger version

1000 Tyres Project
1000 Tyres Project
1000 Tyres Project
1000 Tyres Project

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC attribution non-commercial licence (unless stated otherwise).