SP2: Raised water level supplement

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the raised water level supplement.

How much will be paid

£127 per hectare (ha).

How long this supplement lasts

This supplement lasts for 10 years, instead of the standard 5 years for the grant scheme.

Where to use this supplement

Available for Higher Tier

Only in combination with the following land management options:

The supplement may be used with the following options in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of Natural England:

How this supplement will benefit the environment

It is for raising or maintaining water levels in ditches and adjacent land.

Suitable water levels will be maintained on the option the supplement’s applied to.


Agreement holders will need to raise and maintain high water levels using suitable water control structures, or maintain existing in-field wetness.

Keeping records

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

  • consents or permissions connected with this work

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 management undertaken

The detailed requirements for this supplement will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. Applicants should discuss and agree these requirements with their adviser.

This supplement can be located on the same area as the following supplements:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this supplement

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

Pick the right location

This supplement can be used when the cost of raising or maintaining water levels is not covered by the underlying option.

The supplement usually requires active management of water levels. However, naturally wet sites (where groundwater levels are naturally high or where levels are managed by a third party, such as the local internal drainage board) may also be suitable.

To justify the supplement the site wetness should both:

  • be appropriate for the habitat or historic feature and any targeted species present
  • lead to increased management costs which are not accounted for by the option (such as difficulties in sward management or livestock health implications)

When water levels are being actively managed, the land levels, topography, soils and underlying geology should be suitable for water level management. The site, either alone or combined with a group of sites, should form a natural hydrological unit.

Water management structures (such as sluices or bunds) may be needed to separate the site from neighbouring land - these may be available as capital items.

Unsuitable sites

Unsuitable sites include those where:

  • the base option already includes the costs of water level management (such as the wet grassland and wetland options), unless the supplement is approved by a Natural England specialist
  • the supplement increases the risk of flooding or waterlogging elsewhere
  • the water supply lacks the quantity or quality to achieve the objectives
  • raising water levels would damage priority habitats or species, or features of archaeological, historic or landscape value, unless approved mitigation measures can be taken
  • the proposal would damage third party land or buildings, infrastructure or other assets unless approved mitigation measures are taken
  • there are conflicts with public access or other uses of the area that cannot be resolved

Consents and permissions

Applicants should always consult the local land drainage authority about changes to water levels or restoration works that affect water courses or the floodplain. This may be the local internal drainage board, the Environment Agency or the local authority.

Planning consent may be needed, such as for flood defence bank removal, or for the installation of bunds or embankments within the floodplain.

Applicants may also need the local planning authority’s permission to divert a public right of way.

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. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.