SW16: Flood mitigation on permanent grassland

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the flood mitigation on permanent grassland option.

How much will be paid

£256 per ha

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Whole or part parcel

Only on permanent grassland that meets all of the following:

  • the site, either alone or as part of a group application forms a natural hydrological unit
  • the Environment Agency or Lead Local Flood Authority and where relevant Internal Drainage Board have provided written support
  • a Natural England adviser or a person nominated by NE has endorsed the application

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 and streams that are less than 4m wide for the majority of their length in the parcel
  • natural unsurfaced roads, tracks, paths and bridleways, as long as the requirements can still be met
  • bracken
  • areas of scrub, rock outcrops, and boulders up to 0.1 ha

How this option will benefit the environment

It will intercept and slow surface runoff from rainfall events and provide space for water from streams and rivers to be stored during a flood event to help manage flood risk. It can be used in three ways:

  • to slow down surface runoff on land outside the floodplain by creating temporary storage behind suitable structures such as low earth bunds and modified field-boundaries, or enhanced hollows and depressions
  • to enable the re-connection of the river with the floodplain in areas that will not attract funding from an Environment Agency (EA) flood scheme or option SW12: Making space for water. Flood water will be allowed to spread across the land and naturally subside
  • to reconnect the river and floodplain in association with specific Priority River Habitats and SSSIs where the Making Space for Water option is targeted

If successful there will be new areas of temporary water storage both in the floodplain and outside it that help delay peak flood flows reaching communities and infrastructure at risk of flooding.


Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • prepare the land to receive additional surface runoff or flood water
  • establish grassland
  • limit manure and fertiliser applications

Do not:

  • use pesticides, including herbicides, except to spot treat or weed wipe or to control injurious weeds or invasive non-natives
  • undertake land forming and earthworks, works to river banks or bed, flood defences or bank protection and drainage works other than as set out in the agreement

Keeping records

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

  • receipted invoices, consents or permissions connected with any work
  • field operations at the parcel level including soil loosening to remove compaction, clearance of flood debris, de-silting of bunded areas, reseeding
  • dates and photographs of flooding

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

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • written support from Environment Agency, Lead Local Flood Authority and where relevant Internal Drainage Board
  • NE endorsement
  • a map of existing land drainage in the parcel

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

A number of other options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option. Applicants should discuss and agree these with their adviser

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 the right location

In most cases professional advice will be needed to choose the right location for this option. Each situation will have different priorities.

Slowing down surface runoff – a CSF Water Management Plan or a PA1 Implementation Plan may suffice. In complex applications further advice may be required, such as a PA2 Feasibility Study. Your NE Adviser can guide you to possible sources of relevant advice.

Reconnecting the river and flood plain will need a feasibility study – this could be funded using PA2 Feasibility Study but could also be provided by another project. This study should explore the options and provide evidence for the recommended solution. Capital items may also be used where major preparatory works are required to restore a priority habitat or priority species.

The option must not be used where there is an existing obligation to carry out the works or management required, eg as a planning condition or as compensation.

A Capital Works Plan will be needed to set out how to alter the current course of the river. It should include the engineering requirements to implement the option.

Consents and permissions

Applicants will need advice and relevant consents from the Environment Agency for land adjacent to main rivers, Lead local Flood Authority for other land and the Internal drainage Board in their areas.

Get help to carry out this option

In some cases it may be necessary to hire a specialist project or site manager to act as a clerk of works to help carry out this option.

Access routes and managing flood risk

New routes or bridges to access and maintain the site may be required. These should not be located where they will affect future river movement or temporary flooding.

Escape routes and refuge areas for people or livestock to use during floods must be identified.

Work with neighbouring farms

Applicants might need to work with neighbouring farms to manage land within the hydrological unit and ensure access to the land.

Further information

Whole-river restoration strategies have been developed for rivers designated as SSSIs. This option can be used to help implement them. Read more about restoring designated rivers in England on the River Restoration Centre website.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessments are being developed for all land in England, contact your local EA Adviser for more information.

See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 10 March 2017