RP32: Small leaky woody dams

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the small leaky woody dams item.

How much will be paid

£461.39 for each dam

Where to use this item

It is available for Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier, Mid Tier and Capital Grants but only:

  • with the support and approval from Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF)
  • in catchments targeted for flood risk measures
  • for dams, in streams between 1 metre (m) and 2.99m

How this item will benefit the environment

Leaky woody dams slow the movement of water and help push flows onto the floodplain during floods. This increases temporary storage of flood waters within water channels and out on to the floodplain, helping delay the passage of flood water downstream, allowing sediment to settle out, and reduce downstream flood risk.


You must:

  • send the written support and approval from CSF with your application
  • follow the indicative drawings in the Section 5 choosing capital items for maximum effectiveness
  • construct the dam from logs large enough to span the water channel and out on to the floodplain to provide a stable and long-lasting structure
  • secure the dam in line with the requirements of the Environment Agency or Lead Local Flood Authority
  • align dams at right angles to channel banks to reduce bank scour
  • build dams to allow low flows to pass unimpeded at all times
  • site dams on slow flowing reaches of the water course that have on average 2m of floodplain on either side
  • build dams to a height sufficient to encourage water to spread onto the floodplain upstream of the dam
  • build dams in series (minimum 3 dams) at a spacing between dams of about 5 to 7 times the width of the channel
  • make sure dams are not installed directly upstream of pinch points such as bridges or culverts that back up flows and are likely to swamp the dam
  • check and maintain dams to keep the structure effective
  • follow the requirements set out in any Feasibility Study or Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) Design Plan

Keeping records

Before you apply, you must seek advice from the Environment Agency and where relevant the Lead Local Flood Authority to check if you need consent to carry out the planned work.

You must keep the following records and supply them with your payment claim:

  • photographs of the completed works in place and installed
  • any consents and permissions from the Environment Agency/Local Flood Authority

You must keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • photographs of site before works start
  • a copy of the Feasibility Study or woodland management plan or Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) design plan (Water-Holding Feature Management Plan), where applicable
  • any consents or permissions connected with the work (in addition to the ones stated above)

Please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the relevant Mid Tier, Higher Tier or Capital Grants guidance for more detail. You can find the latest guidance at Countryside Stewardship: get funding to protect and improve the land you manage.

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

The following advice is helpful, but they are not requirements for this item.

Detailed design can vary and the siting of leaky woody dams in natural water courses will be dictated by local circumstances and availability of or easy access to import suitable materials to site.Section 5.4 choosing capital items has details of indicative design of dams.

Check the dams for silt

You will need to check the dam regularly and de-silt it to prevent it collecting large amounts of silt.


This item has been identified as being beneficial for biodiversity. All Countryside Stewardship habitat creation, restoration and management options are of great significance for biodiversity recovery, as are the wide range of arable options in the scheme. Capital items and supplements can support this habitat work depending on the holding’s situation and potential.

The connectivity of habitats is also very important and habitat options should be linked wherever possible. Better connectivity will allow wildlife to move/colonise freely to access water, food, shelter and breeding habitat, and will allow natural communities of both animals and plants to adapt in response to environmental and climate change.

Further information

You can improve the management of water on the land by using rural sustainable drainage systems.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) provides farmers with free advice and training on improving water and air quality and natural flood management. See guidance for further information on Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) support.

Read Countryside Stewardship: get funding to protect and improve the land you manage to find out more information about Mid Tier, Higher Tier and Capital Grants including how to apply.

Published 10 March 2017
Last updated 12 January 2023 + show all updates
  1. The Where to use this item, Requirements, Keeping records sections of this page have been updated

  2. Page updated to show latest record keeping

  3. Capital item now includes woodland.

  4. First published.