GS12: Creation of wet grassland for wintering waders and wildfowl
Find out about eligibility and requirements for the creation of wet grassland for wintering waders and wildfowl option.
How much will be paid
£310 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 parcels that have been in arable, fallow or temporary grass in the last 5 years. They must also have high potential for being restored to habitat for wintering waders and wildfowl.
It must also meet one of the following conditions:
- a recommended fertiliser management system is currently being used to plan nutrient inputs across the farm
- a recommended fertiliser management system will be adopted within 18 months of the start of the agreement
- the applicant qualifies as a low intensity farmer
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):
- ditches, dykes, drains, rivers or streams that are less than 4m wide for the majority of their length in the parcel
- permanent water less than or equal to 0.1ha (larger areas may be eligible at the discretion of Natural England)
- temporary water
- natural unsurfaced roads, tracks, paths and bridleways (as long as the applicant is still able to carry out the requirements of the option)
- small areas of other types of habitat, such as reedbeds and scrub, at the discretion of the delivery body
How this option will benefit the environment
It will create wet grassland for wintering wildfowl and wading birds from arable or temporary grassland. Fields will have well-established swards, with wet areas throughout the winter. Wading birds and wildfowl will be able to feed and roost undisturbed.
Agreement holders are likely to need to:
- establish a suitable sward and manage it by grazing, and possibly cutting
- provide areas of standing water and wet features (such as footdrains, gutters and scrapes) to attract waders and wildfowl through the winter months (ditch water levels may need to be held high to achieve this)
- control and manage trees, scrub, hedges, rushes and undesirable species
- use little or no manure, fertiliser, pesticide or supplementary feed
The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely agreement holders will not be allowed to:
- plough, cultivate or reseed the grassland after successfully establishing it, unless agreed in writing with Natural England
- harrow or roll on historic features
- carry out activities that may disturb birds or damage nests
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
- inputs used
- any sites grazed will require a grazing activity record
- bag returns, if an agreed wildfowl strategy is in place
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
Applicants will need to send the following with their application:
- photographs showing any areas where sward enhancement will be carried out
- a map of the existing drainage system
- evidence that a recommended fertiliser management system is being followed or that the applicant qualifies as a low intensity farmer
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:
- OR1 – Organic conversion – improved permanent grassland
- OT1 – Organic land management – improved permanent grassland
- SP4 - Control of invasive plant species supplement
- SP8 - Native breeds at risk supplement
- SP9 - Threatened species supplement
- WT3 - Management of ditches of high environmental value
The following supplements may also be used with this option, but only in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of Natural England:
- SP2 - Raised water level supplement
- SP5 - Shepherding supplement
- SP6 - Cattle grazing supplement
- SP7 – Introduction of cattle grazing on the Isles of Scilly
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.
For best results:
- use this option as part of a suite of wet grassland and target features options, over a wide area, potentially linking with other landowners
- use this option within, next to or linking Special Protection Areas (SPAs) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) that have wintering waders and wildfowl as interest features
- use this option within, next to or linking non-designated areas with good wader and wildfowl populations
- make sure this option does not conflict with Environment Agency, internal drainage board or local authority policies on flood storage, ditch and river management, water resources and fish migration
- apply for land drainage consent if necessary
- discuss the location of capital works with the Environment Agency, internal drainage boards and local authorities
- discuss the location of capital works with the Historic Environment Service if historic and archaeological features are present
Sites where the water supply is unreliable are not suitable for this option.
See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.
Published: 2 April 2015
Updated: 10 March 2017
- Updated for 2017 applications.
- Information updated for applications in 2016.
- Update to 'keeping records' section.
- First published.