RP4: Livestock and machinery hardcore tracks

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the livestock and machinery hardcore tracks item.

How much will be paid

£33 per metre.

Where to use this item

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier


  • in areas targeted to reduce water pollution from agriculture and with the support of Natural England or a Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) officer


  • in combination with options for the management and restoration of habitats or features with the support of a Natural England adviser

Where this item cannot be used

  • to repair potholes or upgrade existing tracks and farm drives
  • on historic or archaeological features or areas of existing wildlife interest identified on the Farm Environment Record (FER), the Environmental Information Map or the HEFER
  • without relevant advice or consents from the Highways Authority, where a Public Right of Way passes through the gateway

How this item will benefit the environment

A new farm track will reduce soil compaction and erosion caused by livestock and machinery. The new track will also help reduce channelling of surface runoff and the risk of sediment and other pollutants entering a watercourse.


  • all capital works must meet the relevant British Standards - examine copies of the most up-to-date standards for guidance

Hardcore tracks

  • excavate a trench at least 2.4m wide and at least 150mm deep, or down to a naturally occurring hard surface
  • profile the edge of the track with the excavated soil
  • overlay the area with a geotextile membrane if the base of the trench lies on subsoil (a geotextile membrane is not needed if the base is bedrock or chalk)
  • fill the trench with stone or hardcore to a depth of at least 150mm, and compact it
  • finish the top of the track with a finer material (of 18mm to dust) to a depth of 25 to 50mm, and compact it into a convex camber
  • direct any track runoff to a ditch or other stable drainage outlet, or divert it on to grassland

Hardcore tracks using concrete sleepers

  • excavate a trench following the instructions above and in addition:
  • invert the concrete sleepers and lay them slightly proud of the ground
  • lay the sleepers directly on to a level, firm surface and butt them up against each other to form a track (a geotextile membrane is not required)

Hardcore tracks on peaty soils

  • excavate a trench 2.4m wide and at least 300mm deep, or 500mm on deep peats
  • dig out soft pockets in the profile, drain them, fill them with well compacted hardcore and cap them with clay
  • lay a geotextile membrane to the full width of the track, folding up the sides of the trench
  • lay the membrane on to a surface that will not puncture the material
  • allow at least 300mm for any overlap of the membrane
  • fill the trench to within 50mm of the top with stone or hardcore (from 40mm to dust)
  • profile and compact the track to produce a convex camber
  • top off the track with a wearing course (18mm to dust) to a depth of 25 to 50mm, and compact it to produce a convex camber
  • make sure the geotextile membrane is fully covered – if necessary grass turf may be used to prevent exposure of the membrane at the edge of the track

Do not:

  • use general, ungraded building rubble

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 site during the different stages of construction or contracts, invoices or other documents confirming the technical specification for the completed works
  • photographs of the completed works in place and installed

Where this item is to be used on a public right of way, applicants must consult the local highways authority (LHA) before applying. Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • a copy of any advice or consent received from the local highways authority
  • photographs of the existing site
  • written support from a CSF officer or Natural England adviser

This item can be used on the same area as the RP5 - Cross drains item.

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.

How to choose a location

It is best to:

  • construct the tracks alongside field boundaries rather than across the middle of the field - this will help preserve the appearance of the landscape
  • avoid placing the tracks where they will cause runoff or lead to erosion
  • camber the tracks so water sheds continuously off them
  • use cross drains or bunds if the tracks cannot be cambered
  • use cross drains, if necessary, on sloping tracks or tracks that lead on to a highway

When to add a geotextile membrane

A geotextile membrane does not need to be used for all types of soil. It is not usually needed on firm shale and some limestone or chalk soils except on a steep slope. Clay soils and peats will need a greater depth of stone to make up the track layers.

Tracks used by machinery may need a geotextile membrane and base layer of stone, depending on the type of soil. Concrete sleepers alone are not adequate for machinery tracks.

How to maintain the tracks

Any material lost to potholes and erosion should be replaced and compacted. Successful applicants should keep the track dry and firm and deal with any problems as soon as they arise.

Permanent ineligible features

Constructed farm tracks may be classed as permanent ineligible features and excluded from area payment schemes.

Further information

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 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Updated for second year applications (2016).
  3. First published.