Water grants 2015: earth banks and soil bunds (RP9)

Eligibility and requirements for earth banks and soil bunds.

This guidance was withdrawn on

Capital items for improving water quality are now available through the Mid Tier of Countryside Stewardship.

How much will be paid

£155 for each unit (100m of bund).

Where it’s available

This item is available in Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) target areas. Applicants must have the support of a CSF officer to use this option.

When this item can’t be used

It can’t be used item on historic or archaeological features or areas of wildlife value.

How it benefits the environment

This item will help to:

  • slow the movement of water, protecting streams and rivers from pollutants;
  • slow flows during high rainfall and reduce downstream flooding; and
  • control water levels to aid raised water levels for habitat creation and restoration.


Applicants must send dated photographs of the existing site with the application for this item.

Check with the Environment Agency (EA) or an internal drainage board if consents are needed before applying. Applicants must then send a copy of their advice and any consents with their application. With permission from Natural England, advice and consent can be received up until 29 May 2015; applicants can discuss this with their local CSF officer.

On the land

Successful applicants will need to follow the requirements set out in their CSF water plan or water-holding feature management plan.

Make sure to have all the consents and permissions from the relevant authorities before starting the work.

Keeping records

Successful applicants will need to keep:

  • receipted invoices and bank statements relating to this work (show these on request);
  • dated photographs to show that the work has been carried out to specification (submit these with any claim and show them on request); and
  • copies of consents or permissions relating to the work.

How to carry out this item

The following section gives advice on carrying out this item successfully.

Pick a location

Position bunds or banks on land that can support damp, vegetated habitat. Ideally on:

  • tracks;
  • small lightly contaminated yards;
  • hard standing; or
  • the bottom slopes.

This item also works on grassland and arable fields, as single entities or to support buffer strips.

Design and construction

Details of the structure design and construction will be in the management plan. Successful applicants may need to:

  • form infiltration basins into ‘V’, ‘U’ or ‘C’ shapes;
  • measure bunds in a continuous length of 100m per unit with up to a 250m2 runoff store;
  • dig down 0.8m in depth;
  • grade side slopes to no more than 1 in 3;
  • ensure half the stored water can empty within 24 hours;
  • flatten the soil when damp to strengthen the structure;
  • plant grass species in banks that can withstand wet and dry conditions;
  • establish vegetation on the basin floor to reduce clogging;
  • build bay silt traps where soil erosion is high to stop the basin from clogging; and
  • regularly remove excess sediment from banks and bunds, reapplying it back to the field (check with EA if a waste exemption is needed).

Support buffer strips

Successful applicants should:

  • place soil bunds at the field edge of buffer strips, this slows runoff;
  • build bunds 300mm to 500mm high by 600mm to 1000mm wide; and
  • place larger bunds where complex field slopes divert runoff to pinch points.

Establishing soil bunds

Compact down soil bunds then sow a seed mixture at a rate of 24g/m2. Form the seed mix from grass, legumes and wildflower, e.g.:

  • creeping red fescue (70%);
  • smooth meadow-grass (20%); and
  • creeping bent (10%).

Building weirs and outlets

Weirs and outlets can be built into your design as they can discharge more water than pipes and are less likely to block up.

Try directing water onto stones or boulders to slow flow for piped overflows or weirs in ditches and ponds.

This item can be used on the same area as the following items:

Published 2 March 2015