WT9: Creation of fen

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the creation of fen option.

How much will be paid

£446 per hectare (ha).

How long this option lasts

This option lasts for 10 years, instead of the standard 5 years for the grant scheme.

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Whole or part-parcel

Only on:

  • arable land, temporary grassland, improved permanent grassland
  • other wetland habitat that is in poor condition if approved by a specialist
  • land with an suitable and adequate water supply - suitable sites are usually underlain by peat but can also be on slopes with a groundwater outflow

Where this option cannot be used

  • on existing wetland habitat, unless existing wetland is in poor condition and the work is agreed by a specialist
  • on areas of open water 1ha or more in area

Features that can be included in this option

The following features can be included if they are part of the land, even if they are ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):

  • areas of open water up to 1 ha

How this option will benefit the environment

It will help create new areas of fen priority habitat on land with low wildlife value, particularly around existing wetland habitats.

If successful this option will create predominantly open fen vegetation, with occasional scrub. There may be small open water features along ditch lines, water tracks and ponded areas. High water levels will be sustained by a natural, unpolluted water supply which will support a diverse range of target fen species.


Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • undertake any ground works in accordance with an agreed plan
  • manage water levels and water supply
  • establish fen vegetation
  • maintain any culverts, sluices or bunds
  • manage scrub and vegetation to maintain a predominantly open habitat
  • manage scrub and opportunistic species to assist fen establishment
  • dispose of cut material appropriately

The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely agreement holders will not be allowed to:

  • apply fertilisers or manures
  • use pesticides or herbicides, except to spot-treat or weed-wipe for the control injurious weeds and invasive non-native species

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • receipted invoices, consents or permissions connected with the work
  • the agreed Implementation Plan or Feasibility Study
  • records of all management activity on the option area for each parcel
  • before and after photographs of the site

Applicants will need to send the following with their application:

  • a recommendation from a specialist if using this option for existing wetland habitat that is in poor condition
  • a Feasibility Study or Implementation Plan agreed with Natural England, if applicable
  • photographs of areas proposed for land forming or earth works and vegetation establishment

The detailed requirements for this option will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. Applicants should discuss and agree these requirements with their adviser.

The following options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following section gives advice on carrying out this option successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this option.

Fen is a diverse habitat type with different fen types depending on factors such as water chemistry, soil type, fertility, position in the landscape and historical management.

To create fen appropriately consider the location and landscape setting. Identify the type of fen the option is aiming to create and set objectives and management appropriately.

Decide how best to create fens by taking into account:

  • how and where it sits in the wider landscape
  • how past modification and management have influenced the fen and the wildlife it supports
  • how the fen is supplied with water and how it drains.
  • other landscape and management constraints such as flood risk, historic environment and landscape impact

Small fen sites are usually fragments of much larger wetlands and semi-natural landscapes so look for opportunities to extend and buffer existing fens by:

  • re-wetting areas with drained peat next to them
  • blocking or in-filling pipes or ditches that intercept springs or drain the fen

Account for the surroundings and neighbouring habitats to plan more coherent wetland units. Habitats can include lowland raised bog, wet grassland or wet woodland.

The character and condition of a fen is largely determined by water that comes from its catchment. Therefore it is important that surrounding land is managed sympathetically and in ways that will not damage the fen through pollution by nutrients or sediment runoff.

Feasibility and impact should be fully assessed in advance and all appropriate advice and permissions obtained. A detailed implementation plan or feasibility study for the works should be agreed with Natural England.

If the proposed management involves raising water levels, applicants should contact the Environment Agency before applying for this item.

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