RP5: Cross drains

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the cross drains item.

How much will be paid

£245 per drain.

Where to use this item

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier


  • in areas targeted for the reduction of water pollution from agriculture
  • where a farm track is acting as a conduit for water runoff or pollution
  • in farmyards to redirect clean water

Where this item cannot be used

  • to manage or redirect heavily polluted effluents and slurries
  • without relevant advice or consent if track is identified as a historic routeway in the HEFER

How this item will benefit the environment

This item will provide a drain to intercept and conduct surface runoff away from farm tracks and yards. The drain will help reduce channelling of surface runoff and the risk of sediment and other pollution entering a watercourse.


  • position the cross drain so it catches the water on the uphill side of the track or yard and transfers it to an outfall where it will not cause new erosion or runoff issues
  • redirect water from the cross drain to a stable drainage outlet such as a ditch, culvert or other outfall - low flows can be directed to a field or field margin
  • construct the drain either by digging a partially covered channel to collect sediment and redirect surface water, or by constructing a low hump to direct surface flows
  • maintain drains and drainage outfalls or the areas around humps by removing built-up sediment or other clogging materials
  • either construct an open channel:

    • excavate a channel across the width of the track or in a yard to a depth of at least 100mm and 100mm to 250mm wide
    • line the channel with concrete and install a gridded top that must be at least 150mm wide
  • or construct a raised hump:

    • excavate a foundation trench across the track or yard to a depth of at least 300mm
    • fill it with concrete
    • key in kerbstones across the trench so they protrude 60 to 100mm above the surrounding surface
  • all capital works carried out must meet the relevant British Standards - examine copies of the most up-to-date standards for guidance

Do not:

  • direct any runoff towards any biodiversity, historic or archaeological features (identified on the FER, the Environmental Information Map or the HEFER), or damage them in any other way
  • allow polluted water from drains to reach a watercourse or pond

Keeping records

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

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work
  • receipted invoices or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the Mid Tier manual for more detail

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them with the claim:

  • photographs of the completed work

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • photographs of the site before the work takes place
  • written advice from a historic environment specialist if the track is a historic routeway

This item can be used on the same area as the following items:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

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

Using this item with other measures

Agreement holders should use this item with other measures, such as buffer strips, sediment traps, swales and dams, to slow the velocity of water across the land and prevent pollutants travelling to a watercourse. Follow best practice for reducing soil erosion and increasing water infiltration in fields.

How to choose a site for the drain

Any water draining from the surrounding land should be diverted before it flows on to the track or yard. This can be done by using breaks such as hedges, ditches or buffers.

Cross drains should be placed at intervals across sloping tracks. The number of drains will increase with the length or steepness of the slope. The distance between the drains will vary according to the site, but they must be close enough to collect heavy surface flows.

How to manage drain outfall

Outfall from the drains should be directed to a specially created temporary water storage area. This will allow water to infiltrate the ground and will protect existing watercourses. It is essential to do this if the water is likely to be polluted (e.g. if livestock use the track or yard). Direct low flows to a well-managed, tussocky grass field margin. Additional capital items (for example, silt traps or swales) can be used to create a temporary water storage area.

How to maintain structures

The structures should be checked for a build-up of sediment or other clogging pollutants after heavy rainfall. They should also be checked after agricultural activities have taken place that are likely to shift soil to the track (e.g. the movement of muddy machines or livestock).

Where to position tracks

If possible, position tracks so they do not run directly downhill or carry pollutants directly between farmyard or fields and watercourses.

Consider using this item when using item [RP4 - Livestock and machinery hardcore tracks] in a place where runoff is still likely to be a problem.

Further information

Improve the management of water on the land by using Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) operates in parts of the country where there are water quality issues linked to farming. The scheme provides farmers with free advice and training. See guidance for further information on CSF support.

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

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 29 March 2016 + show all updates
  1. Information updated for applications in 2016
  2. First published.