Water grants 2015: livestock and machinery hardcore tracks (RP4)

Eligibility and requirements for livestock and machinery hardcore tracks.

This guidance was withdrawn on

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

Farmers and other land managers can apply for water grants.

Read the accompanying guidance to find out more about Countryside Stewardship water grants 2015.

How much will be paid

£33 per metre.

Where the item is available

This item is available in Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) target areas.

When this item can’t be used

It can’t be used:

  • to repair potholes or upgrade existing tracks and farm drives; or
  • on historic or archaeological features or areas of existing wildlife interest.

How this item will benefit the environment

This item will construct new farm tracks to reduce soil compaction and erosion caused by livestock and machinery. The new tracks will also reduce the risk of sediment and other pollution entering waterways.


Applicants must send dated photographs of the existing site with their application for this item; and Consult the local highways authority before applying for this item if applicants plan to use this item on a public right of way. Send any advice or consent received with their application for this item.

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 make sure that all capital works meet the relevant British Standards.

Install hardcore tracks

To install hardcore tracks, successful applicants will need to:

  • dig a trench at least 2.4m wide and at least 150mm deep, or down to a naturally occurring firm base;
  • profile the edge of the track with the soil removed;
  • overlay the area with a geotextile membrane if the base of the trench lies on subsoil rather than bedrock or chalk;
  • fill the trench with stone, hardcore or coarse scalpings to a depth of at least 150mm, and compact it;
  • don’t fill the trench with general, ungraded building rubble;
  • finish the top of the track with a finer material (of 18mm to dust) to a depth of 25 to 50mm, and compact it into a convex camber; and
  • direct any track runoff to a ditch or other stable drainage outlet, or divert it on to grassland.

The area does not have to be covered with a geotextile membrane if the base of the trench lies on stone or chalk.

Install hardcore tracks using concrete sleepers

To install hardcore tracks using concrete sleepers, successful applicants must follow the same instructions for installing hardcore tracks. They will also need to:

  • invert the concrete sleepers and lay them slightly proud of the ground; and
  • lay the sleepers directly on to a level, firm surface and butt them up against each other to form a track. They don’t need to:

  • fit a geotextile membrane layer; or
  • finish the track with finer material.

Hardcore tracks on peaty soils

To install hardcore tracks on peaty soils, successful applicants will need to:

  • dig a trench 2.4m wide and at least 300mm deep, or 500mm on deep peats;
  • dig out soft pockets in the profile, drain them, fill them with well compacted hardcore and cap them with clay;
  • lay a geotextile membrane to the full width of the track, folding up the sides of the trench - the membrane must be laid on a surface that won’t puncture it;
  • allow at least 300mm for any overlap of the membrane;
  • fill the trench to within 50mm of the top with stone or hardcore (from 40mm to dust);
  • profile and compact the track to produce a convex camber;
  • top off the track with a wearing course (18 mm to dust) to a depth of 25 to 50mm, and compact it to produce a convex camber; and
  • make sure the geotextile membrane is fully covered - grass turf may be needed to prevent exposure of the membrane at the edge of the track.

Keeping records

Successful applicants will need to keep dated photographs showing the completed track and each of the 3 stages of the work. The 3 stages are:

  • digging the trench and adding the geotextile layer;
  • adding the hardcore; and
  • the completed surface.

These photographs must be sent with any claim and shown on request. The following will also need to be kept:

  • receipted invoices and bank statements associated with the work; and
  • all consents received in connection with this work.

How to carry out this item

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

How to choose a location

Successful applicants should:

  • construct the tracks alongside field boundaries rather than across the middle of the field - this will help preserve the appearance of the landscape;
  • make sure they don’t place the tracks where they’ll cause runoff or lead to erosion;
  • camber the tracks so water sheds continuously off them;
  • use cross drains or bunds if the tracks can’t be cambered; and
  • use cross drains, if necessary, on sloping tracks or tracks that lead on to a highway.

When to add a geotextile membrane

A geotextile membrane does not need to be added for all types of soil. A geotextile membrane usually only needs to be added on firm shale and some limestone or chalk soils on a steep slope. On clay soils and peats, a greater depth of stone will be needed to make up the track layers.

Successful applicants may also need to add a geotextile membrane and base layer of stone on machinery tracks, depending on the type of soil. Concrete sleepers alone won’t be enough for these tracks.

How to maintain the tracks

Any material lost to potholes and erosion should be replaced and compacted. Successful applicants should keep the track dry and firm and deal with any problems as soon as they arise. How to get a waste exemption licence

Successful applicants will need to apply for a U1 waste exemption licence if waste is used in construction.

Permanent ineligible features

Constructed farm tracks may be classed as permanent ineligible features and excluded from the Basic Payment Scheme.

Item RP5 - Cross drains can be used on the same area as this item.

Published 2 March 2015