Water grants 2015: watercourse crossings (RP3)

Eligibility and requirements for watercourse crossings.

This guidance was withdrawn on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

£300 per unit.

Where the item is available

This item is available in Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) target areas. It should be used in areas with livestock. A U1 waste exemption licence, will be needed for the use of waste in construction, to use this item.

When this item can’t be used

It can’t be used on environmental, historic or archaeological features.

How this item will benefit the environment

The crossings will prevent livestock and machines from disturbing watercourses and surrounding areas. This will reduce sedimentation and bacteria levels in the water.


Applicants must consult the Environment Agency (EA) and their local planning authority about their plans before applying.

Applicants must send the following with their application for this item:

  • any advice or consent they received from the EA or the local planning authority; and
  • dated photographs of the existing site 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

All the capital works must meet the relevant British Standards. Successful applicants will need to:

  • construct a ford at least 4m wide;
  • key a semi-circular, straight or oblique group of toe stones 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 don’t stand clear of the water during low summer flows and that they don’t form a weir;
  • make sure the approach slope gradient is no steeper than 1 in 4;
  • make sure that livestock can’t access the sides of the ford approaches; and
  • make sure there’s a rock revetment to protect the ford approaches on the river side.

Successful applicants must also protect the base of the entrance and the exit ramp, as this will help to prevent bankside erosion. Use either rock armouring or coarse gravel or hardcore for protection. If rock armouring is used, cobble-sized rocks should be used to create as flat a surface as possible. Fill any gaps with coarse gravel or hardcore.

If coarse gravel or hardcore are used, successful applicants should:

  • use them 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 1:4 parallel to the slope);
  • drive the posts at least 50mm below the line of the boards to avoid tripping; and
  • compact the bed of the ramp to provide a stable footing for livestock.

Keeping records

Successful applicants will need to keep:

  • dated photographs of the site while the work is taking place and after it’s completed (submit these with any claim and show them on request); and
  • receipted invoices and bank statements relating to this work.

How to carry out this item

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

How to choose a location

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

Successful applicants 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 built on a bend, as this can lead to silt deposition on the inside of the bend and erosion on the outside.

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

Further information

Find out more about watercourse crossings from the Rivers Trust.

Published 2 March 2015