Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
UC Options for trees and woodland
UC5 Sheep fencing around small woodlands 50 points per 100 m

Fencing is important for the establishment of new woods as well as maintaining existing ones


This option is only available on SDA land below the Moorland Line.

This option is for the provision of new fencing to prevent access to woodland by livestock. It must only be placed adjacent to small areas of predominantly native woodlands, in particular ancient woodlands.

These are defined as woodland parcels less than 3 ha in size comprising at least 50 per cent native species. You must have management control of the woodland. The whole woodland must be enclosed following completion of this option, preventing all livestock access.

You may enter a maximum of 500 m of this option into an agreement. The fencing must be erected in the first year of the agreement. You may not add this option to your agreement after the first year. This option will contribute to your points target for a maximum of 5 years. The new fencing must result, or contribute to, the effective exclusion of stock. Woodland parcels that are already in woodland grant schemes requiring the exclusion of livestock are not eligible.

If you are a tenant, you may need consent from the landowner for establishing new boundaries and, in the case of common land, the Secretary of State/Defra. You are advised to contact the relevant authority prior to submitting an application. In some circumstances, a covenant restricting the erection of new fencing may be attached to the land.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Avoid features of historic or archaeological importance.
  • Before work starts, all old fencing must be removed and disposed of appropriately.
  • Erect fencing in straight lines between strainer posts. The fence must be at least 1.05 m high. If extra height is required, this should be obtained by fixing additional strands of wire.
  • Strainer posts must be used at each end of the fence and at each corner or turning point. Strainer posts should be at least 125 mm top diameter or 100 mm x 100 mm cross-section if sawn; 2.15 m long if not set in concrete, or 1.85 m if in concrete. The spacing between the strainer posts should not exceed 150 m where mild steel line wire is used, or 300 m for high tensile wire.
  • Struts should be at least 80 mm top diameter, or 75 mm x 75 mm if sawn; 1.9 m long if not set in concrete and at least 1.6 m where set in concrete. Struts should be notched into the strainer post at an angle of no more than 45 degrees.
  • Intermediate posts should be at least 65 mm top diameter, or 75 mm x 75 mm if sawn; 1.7 m long; and spaced no further than 3.5 m apart.
  • All softwood timber must be fully peeled and treated with an appropriate preservative.
  • Stock netting used should be 80 cm high and fastened with galvanised staples.
  • Two top lines of wire 100 mm apart should be stapled to the upright posts. Do not use barbed wire where new fencing is erected alongside public rights of way. Line wire should comply with BS 4102 and be properly strained and fastened with galvanised staples.
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