The Rangehead area on South Uist consists of areas of flower-rich machair grassland (flat, sea-shell sand soil with a thin covering of grass), coastal lagoons, dunes and beach. It is of great importance for birds, with exceptionally high densities of breeding waders such as dunlin, lapwing, oystercatchers, snipe and ringed plover. The density of nesting dunlin is the highest recorded anywhere in the world, whilst Loch Bee is very important for swans.
The Range Control Building is a small, heavily developed area which although it has no designations is a great place to see some of the characteristic birds of prey of Uist such as white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, merlin and short-eared owl. Red deer are often seen on the slopes around the site.
There are also range facilities on Hirta, one of islands of the world famous St Kilda archipelago which is 41 miles west of Benbecula airport. Hirta has the highest sea cliffs in Britain (430m). St Kilda is one of few sites in the world to have dual World Heritage Site status for both its global natural and cultural significance. The Islands are owned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and managed by them in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Historic Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), Ministry of Defence and QinetiQ who all work together to implement the St Kilda World Heritage Site Management Plan.
The breeding seabird colonies on the Islands are of international importance – almost a million seabirds breed each year - and they host a significant breeding proportion of the world population of some species, including the World’s largest gannet population (120,000 pairs) and is the largest British sites for breeding puffins (140,000 pairs) and fulmar (65000 pairs).
St Kilda’s human history is as fascinating as its natural heritage with echoes of a lost community that once lived on what has been described as 'the edge of the world'. Three areas of Hirta are Scheduled Ancient Monuments and the whole Island group is a National Scenic Area.
All developments and operations on the Hebrides Range have regard for these special natural and historical features and there are regular and comprehensive liaison with the owners, crofters and the statutory bodies. Strict procedures are in place to ensure that QinetiQ's presence has the minimum environmental impact.