Although the terrestrial network of SPAs and SACs in the UK is substantially complete for some species and habitats, significant gaps remain.
There has been little progress in recent years (except in Scotland)For example, the 2001 SPA Review (approved by the government) has yet to be fully implemented, and network coverage for species dependant on man-made habitats is generally poor as classification of these habitats has been resisted.
In addition, the UK marine SPA network remains substantially incomplete and current Government plans offer no significant progress on classification before 2015.
There is no requirement or mechanism for the development of management plans for Natura 2000 sites under UK law or policy. The only exception to this is a mechanism for the development of management plans for ‘European Marine Sites’ (i.e. tidal and sub-tidal components of Natura 2000 sites).
However, while most such sites do have these plans they are not mandatory, are limited in scope to ongoing operations and activities (i.e they do not cover development etc), and generally contain only voluntary measures.
For terrestrial sites, agri-environment schemes have been hugely beneficial in promoting positive site management, but future funding could be threatened by the 2014 CAP reform.
The clarity of the framework for site conservation and management is generally poor. Site conservation objectives are generally poor. The approach and delivery of site condition monitoring is inconsistent between UK country administrations.
The vast majority of sites in the UK are funded though rural development funding, although there is no ring-fencing for Natura 2000. Other sources of funding include LIFE, INTERREG and other EU funds, and funds provided by site managers themselves (e.g. RSPB).
Significant gaps in funding still exist, particularly for the scientific work needed to identify potential marine sites, and to track the status of protected species and habitat types outside of Natura 2000 sites.
The Nature Conservation Agencies in Wales and England have submitted proposals for LIFE funding to develop Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAF). Scotland and Northern Ireland have so far not begun work on PAFs.