CT7: Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat on intensive grassland

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat on intensive grassland option.

How much will be paid

£276 per hectare (ha).

How long this option lasts

This option runs for 20 years, not the standard 5 years for the scheme, in recognition of the level of management change involved and its largely irreversible nature.

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Whole or part-parcel


Only on sites that are both:

  • next to saltmarsh or other inter-tidal habitats
  • grassland that lies behind a coastal defence - most of the land must lie below mean high water spring tide level (the average of the heights of two successive high waters when the tidal range is greatest)

The creation of the inter-tidal habitat must both:

Where this option cannot be used

If the planned creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat is:

  • as compensation, planning consent condition or other Habitat Regulations requirement
  • on areas of grassland priority habitat, unless agreed with Natural England
  • on land that has previously received 20 years’ agri-environment funding for inter-tidal habitat creation

Features that can be included in this option

The following features can be included if they are part of the land area (once inter-tidal habitat is created), even if they are ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):

  • open water (such as lagoons and creeks)
  • bare mud

How this option will benefit the environment

It creates inter-tidal and saline habitats, including transitional areas (transitions between saltmarsh and nearby habitats), on grassland or improved grassland.

If successful there will be:

  • inter-tidal and saltmarsh areas developing
  • a mosaic of open habitats such as lagoons, creeks and mudflats
  • saltmarsh plants colonising more stable higher areas of the habitats
  • lugworm casts, feeding birds and other evidence of marine invertebrates

As a result of tides bringing in sediment and seeds, a range of inter-tidal habitats will form such as mudflats, coastal saltmarsh, together with saline lagoons and transitions between these and other habitats where the topography promotes this. These habitats will benefit many specialised plants and animals adapted to the differing degrees of tidal inundation and saline influence. These factors result in variations in vegetation cover from bare mud to dense saltmarsh, and succession between them over time.

The creation of small-scale saline lagoons, which require an input of seawater, can be promoted by this option. This option will also contribute to more sustainable flood management, adaptation to climate change and enhancement of the coastal landscape. Where sediment is deposited, the option may contribute to the protection of important archaeological sites from the impacts of ploughing or other forms of cultivation (but early consultation with historic specialists will be needed where such sites are present).


A Feasibility Study (PA2) may be required to inform an application that includes this option. It will include how to:

  • prepare the site and manage any existing vegetation
  • excavate any lagoons or creeks
  • manage vegetation once established
  • carry out any necessary breaches to the sea wall

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
  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices
  • any sites grazed will require a grazing activity record

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

You should also be aware that at the start of each claim year, a percentage of agreement holders will be asked to take and submit the following photographic records:

  • photographs of the management undertaken

Before applying for this option applicants should contact both Natural England and the Environment Agency for advice.

Applicants will need to send the following with their application (to ensure no new access or drainage is added during the agreement period):

  • a map of permitted access routes
  • a map of the land drainage system (if any)
  • written support from the Environment Agency and Natural England

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.

To ensure that transitional areas are included in the agreement area, the boundary of the agreement should normally extend to Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT) plus 1 metre. This will allow for development of transitional zone, including unusual transitions from saline to brackish to freshwater habitats. Such instances would need to be identified in the initial planning stages prior to completion of the agreement and clearly justified for individual sites.

This is a specialised option that is only likely to be used in a relatively small number of cases, where a managed breach of coastal defences is planned. On sites where there is interest and potential for this option, discussions should be held with Natural England and the Environment Agency at an early stage. Planning for such projects can often take several years, with coastal process modelling and feasibility studies usually needed.

Where coastal defences are not being maintained and are then overtopped or breached naturally, option CT5 - Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat by non-intervention would apply.

Further information

Further information is available from:

  • the Environment Agency’s saltmarsh management manual
  • The Saltmarsh Creation Handbook: A Project Manager’s Guide to the Creation of Saltmarsh and Inter-tidal Mudflat by AS Nottage and PA Robertson (RSPB/CIWEM, 2005)

See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.