SW11: Riparian management strip

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the riparian management strip option.

How much will be paid

£440 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Part parcel

Only on land that meets each of the following requirements:

  • it is located next to ditches, rivers or streams
  • it is grazed

Where this option cannot be used

  • adjacent to any other grassland option or adjacent to woodland
  • on moorland or unenclosed land
  • on designated open access land
  • on Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) unless approved by Natural England

How this option will benefit the environment

It prevents livestock access to the watercourse and provides a buffer strip. This will help reduce bankside erosion and the transport of pollutants to the watercourse. It will also provide habitat for wildlife and form links between other habitats. As the scrub develops, it may also help to shade and cool the watercourse.


  • keep livestock from the riparian strip, leaving no access the watercourse
  • make sure the riparian strip is at least 4m wide, but not more than 12m wide
  • control all invasive non-native species, such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed or Himalayan balsam
  • cut only to control woody growth so that it does not exceed 80% of the total area

Do not:

  • apply any fertilisers or manures
  • apply pesticides, except for herbicides to weed wipe or spot treat injurious weeds, invasive non-native species, nettles or bracken

Keeping records

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

  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • SSSI approval if required

The following options can be located on the same area as this option:

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.

How to choose a site

This option should be used in targeted areas to reduce diffuse water pollution, in particular where livestock access to the watercourse is causing a significant water quality issue.

How to manage the strip

Use permanent fencing to exclude livestock from the strip and watercourse. Include a gate in the fence to provide access to the site for management. Capital grants are available in Mid Tier for a variety of fencing and water supply capital items.

High tensile wire should be used rather than netting if the fence alongside the strip is likely to be flooded. This will help to reduce the chance of debris snagging and therefore will withstand more flood pressure.

Invasive or non-native weeds should be controlled in a way that is not harmful to the stream.

Woody species such as alder, willow and sallow should be encouraged, but not permitted to cover the strip completely. Trees or scrub must be controlled if they start to dominate the strip. This should be carried out in small stages and patches by:

  • making scalloped indents along the field or riparian edges
  • cutting back isolated sections of larger trees

Further information

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