WN3: Ditch, dyke and rhine restoration

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the ditch, dyke and rhine restoration item.

How much will be paid

£7.30 per metre (m).

Where to use this item

It is available for Higher Tier if you send an assessment of the existing biological interest of the site (particularly related to protected species) with your application.

Where this item cannot be used

For routine agricultural maintenance or to drain land prone to waterlogging.

How this item will benefit the environment

It restores the wildlife value of overgrown or neglected ditches and helps to establish raised water levels for restoring or creating habitats.


You must:

  • carry out the restoration work between 1 July and 28 February (the exact timing will be determined by the pre-application assessment)
  • only re-profile or cut deeper than the original profile by agreement with the adviser
  • if re-profiling, create a variety of depths in the channel, from 70 centimetres (cm) to 100cm, grading to a shallow, wet, marginal fringe
  • if re-profiling, make sure the profile varies, with most of the slopes between 30 and 45 degrees
  • work from one bank in an upstream direction, restoring only half the ditch in any one year
  • restore one side of the ditch along its full length, or alternate 100m sections along both sides
  • retain any in-channel features such as gravel beds, riffles and natural meanders
  • create berms along the sides of the ditch
  • secure material at the downstream end of the ditch during dredging or re-profiling to capture silt in the water, and remove this when any silt has settled
  • place the spoil on top of the bank or in the field next to it, making sure that it is not used to fill hollows or low areas within the field
  • make sure that the spoil is not placed on historic or archaeological features
  • spread the spoil thinly to prevent a spoil bank from forming
  • place all fences at least 1m away from the edge of the bank top

The agreement will set out what you cannot do. You probably will not be allowed to:

  • reprofile or cut deeper than the original profile unless by agreement with the adviser
  • fill hollows or low areas within the field with spoil
  • place spoil on historic or archaeological feature

Keeping records

Before applying for this item you should make sure you have any relevant consents, for example from the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board or Historic England. You do not need to provide this with your application, but you must send any consents with your payment claim.

You must keep the following records and supply them with your payment claim:

  • any Environmental Agency, Internal Drainage Board or Historic England advice or consent if needed
  • photographs of the completed work
  • an assessment of the existing biological interest of the site, particularly related to protected species using the Ditch, dyke and rhine restoration assessment form

You must keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work (in addition to the ones stated above)
  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • photographs of site before works start

The detailed requirements for this item will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. You should discuss and agree these requirements with your adviser.

Please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the Higher Tier manual for more detail

You can use this item on the same area as the following options:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

The following advice is helpful, but they are not requirements for this item.

Where to use this item

Use this item on ditches that have become silted up through neglect and have channels that need to be cleaned and banks that need to be reprofiled. Using this item will create a more varied habitat for wildlife.

You can also use this item to prevent the degradation of historic environment features and waterlogged archaeological deposits by helping to support high water levels.

Re-profiling ditches, dykes and rhines

The profile of restored ditches, dykes and rhines should reflect the character of existing features in the local area.

Further information

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

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 11 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. The Keeping records section of this page has been updated.

  2. Updated for 2017 applications.

  3. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  4. First published.