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

In Mid Tier this option can only be used with approval from Natural England, and only with options GS9 and GS10.

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.


  • manage ditches and banks in a suitable manner between 1 September and 31 March
  • leave one bank or section of the ditch unmanaged, as a refuge for plants and invertebrates
  • dispose of spoil in an appropriate manner
  • control invasive non-native species, if they’re present
  • manage ditch water levels appropriately

In Mid Tier, additional clauses may be included to refine the standard requirements. These will be discussed and agreed as part of the approval process.

Do not:

  • re-profile or increase the width or depth of the ditch
  • use spoil to fill hollows or low areas within the field, or place 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

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.

Further information

See the 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 information for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.