RP3: Watercourse crossings

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the watercourse crossings item.

How much will be paid

£300 per crossing.

Where to use this item

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Only in areas targeted to reduce water pollution from agriculture

Where this item cannot be used

  • where there are environmental, archaeological or historic features identified on the Farm Environment Record (FER), the Environmental Information Map or the HEFER
  • without relevant advice or consents from the Environment Agency or Local Planning Authority

How this item will benefit the environment

Providing a watercourse crossing for livestock and machinery will reduce the disturbance to the watercourse, which will help reduce sedimentation.


  • construct a ford at least 4m wide
  • include a semi-circular, straight or oblique group of toe stones keyed into the riverbed on the downstream edge to form a gravel trap
  • key the stones down to at least 600mm below the existing level of the bed or below the known scour level (whichever is deeper)
  • make sure the stones do not stand clear of the water during low summer flows and that they do not form a weir
  • make sure the approach slope gradient is no steeper than 1 in 4
  • make sure that livestock cannot access the sides of the ford approaches
  • include rock revetment to protect the ford approaches on the river side
  • protect the base of the entrance and the exit ramp, (to avoid bankside erosion) with one of the following:

    • rock armouring using cobble-sized rocks to create as flat a surface as possible and filling any gaps with coarse gravel or hardcore
    • coarse gravel or hardcore:
      • with treated retaining boards (50mm by 230mm) along the ramp (parallel to the river flow) and spaced 1m apart
      • hold the boards in position with treated posts (100mm by 100mm) that are 1m apart
      • drive the posts into the bank and trim them at an angle of 1 in 4 (parallel to the slope)
      • drive the posts at least 50mm below the line of the boards to avoid tripping
      • compact the bed of the ramp to provide a stable footing for livestock
  • all capital works carried out must meet the relevant British Standards - examine copies of the most up-to-date standards for guidance

Keeping records

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

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work
  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the Mid Tier manual for more detail

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them with the claim:

  • photographs of the site during the different stages of construction or contracts, invoices or other documents confirming the technical specification for the completed works
  • photographs of the completed works in place and installed

Applicants must obtain Flood Defence Consent on a main river and contact the the local planning authority about the plans before applying for this item. Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • a copy of any advice or consent received from the EA or the local planning authority
  • photographs of the existing site

This item can be used on the same area as the FG15 - Water gates item.

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

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

How to choose a location

It is generally best to build watercourse crossing points at existing stock crossing locations, as the banks are usually less steep.

Agreement holders should choose a site that needs the minimum amount of excavation work. This will produce less spoil, cause less disruption and reduce the amount of sediment entering the watercourse.

The crossing should not be constructed on a watercourse bend, as this can lead to silt deposition on the inside of the bend and erosion on the outside.

Further information

Further information about watercourse crossings is available from the Rivers Trust.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) operates in parts of the country where there are water quality issues linked to farming. The scheme provides farmers with free advice and training. See guidance for further information on CSF support.

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 29 March 2016 + show all updates
  1. Information updated for applications in 2016
  2. First published.