A 24-mile stretch of coastline between Falmouth Bay and St Austell Bay has been added to the UK's marine "Blue Belt" to protect rare seabirds’ habitats.

Experts believe that nearly 150,000 rare seabirds, including the little tern and black-throated diver, will benefit from the expansion of the Blue Belt, which is made up of classified Special Protection Areas.

It already protects 23 per cent of UK waters, along with more than 300 sites inland.

In particular, this new stretch of protected coastline is the UK's most important site for the wintering black-throated diver.

At 650 square miles, it covers an area equivalent to 55,000 football pitches.

Sandwich terns and common terns, which are both amber-listed due to declines in the size or range of their breeding populations, are also expected to be protected, along with the great northern diver and Eurasian spoonbill.

Natural England chairman Andrew Sells said extending the Blue Belt was a vital measure to protect the UK’s wildlife that would help them “thrive into the future."