WT3: Management of ditches of high environmental value

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of ditches of high environmental value option.

How much will be paid

£37 per 100 metres for the management of both sides of the ditch.

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Only on ditches of high environmental value and ditches essential for the management of the following options:

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

How this option will benefit the environment

It will manage ditches of high environmental value that support target species of plants, birds, mammals and invertebrates. It will also manage ditches that are essential to carrying out the wet grassland and wetland options.


Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • manage ditches and banks in a suitable manner and at the correct time of year for the target species or habitats
  • leave one bank or section of the ditch unmanaged, as a refuge for plants and invertebrates
  • dispose of spoil in an appropriate manner
  • control and manage invasive alien species, if they’re present
  • manage ditch water levels appropriately

The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely agreement holders will not be allowed to:

  • re-profile or increase the width or depth of the ditch
  • using spoil to fill hollows or low areas within the field, or placing spoil on historic or archaeological features
  • managing all the ditches in any one year
  • fence off ditches

Keeping records

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

  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices

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 ditch

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 supplements can be located on the same area as this option:

If the ditch is partly located on a neighbouring parcel of land, this option can be used with any whole-field options or supplements that can be used on that parcel.

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

What to do if the work is complex

Maintain a variety of successional stages within the ditch network. These may range from open water to well-developed aquatic plant communities. Draw up an implementation plan specific to the site if the work proposed is particularly complex.

How to manage the ditches

Manage the ditches in a way appropriate to their scale, number and local area (methods of ditch management vary across the country).

Using the option on one side of a ditch

Normally use this option on both sides of a ditch. However, where control is limited to one side of a ditch, use this option if it will bring about the objectives.

Restoring ditches

Restore ditches covered by this option with funding from the appropriate ditch restoration capital item. However, this will need to be agreed with Natural England first.

Protected species

If the ditch contains a protected species, a wildlife licence will be required.

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