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30 October, 2017

Consultation on important nature site near Muirkirk

Steps to progress proposals for the extension of an internationally important wildlife site in south west Scotland begin today (Friday 27th October).

A haven for hen harriers – one of Scotland’s rarest birds – as well as short-eared owls, merlin, peregrines and golden plovers, the Muirkirk Uplands Site of Special Scientific Interest covers large areas of moorland between Darvel, New Cumnock and Muirkirk.

The site qualifies for extension because of its ornithological importance and will replace habitat that was lost through the abandonment of opencast coal mines at nearby Powharnal and Grievehill. It will take in 494 hectares of land in the area of Anderside Flow in the north Muirkirk hills, extending the protected site to just over 19,000 hectares.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has identified this site after a rigorous search and evaluation process which involved looking for appropriate habitats and checking that they are being used by the internationally important birds.

The SSSI forms part of the internationally important Muirkirk and North Lowther Special Protection Area which is designated under the EU Birds Directive. SNH is also consulting on a proposal to extend this designation over the same area.

Landowners, people who live there and others with a direct interest have been contacted by SNH and will be able to comment on the proposals between now and 2 February 2018.


Media queries
Please contact SNH press & PR officer, Nancy Fraser, on 0131 314 6776 or (Monday and Tuesday) or the SNH main press office on 01463 725022 (Wednesday to Friday).

Notes for editors
The Muirkirk Uplands Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is nationally important for blanket bog, dry heath and acid grassland. It supports an outstanding assemblage of upland breeding birds. It is also a Special Protection Area, protected under European legislation (the EC Birds Directive). It is internationally important for breeding short-eared owl, hen harrier, merlin, peregrine and golden plover and its wintering population of hen harriers. The SPA is made up of a number of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), including the Muirkirk Uplands SSSI.

There will be a three month formal consultation period during which those with an interest in the land can comment or make representations on the scientific grounds for extending the site.

Contact information

Dominic Shann
Job Title
Media relations lead for marine management
01463 725157
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

Tha Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba na buidheann comhairleachaidh dhan riaghaltas a thaobh nàdair agus seallaidhean-tìre air feadh Alba. ’S e an dleastanas a th’ againn cuideachadh a thoirt do dhaoine gus tuigse, luach agus tlachd fhaighinn bho nàdar na h-Alba, an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd. Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, tadhail air  no lean sinn air Twitter aig


SENSITIVE - 81305 Muirkirk SSSI 30 06 2017-2

SENSITIVE - 81305 Muirkirk SSSI 30 06 2017-2

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