Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
UJ Options to protect soils and water in the uplands
UPDATED in 2013
UJ3 Post and wire fencing along watercourses
50 points per 100 m

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

This option is for the provision of fencing to protect watercourses from grazing livestock. Watercourse fencing will help to reduce faecal contamination and prevent stream bank damage and therefore will have a significant impact upon water quality and will minimise damage to wildlife habitats. It will also create a buffer zone to help reduce sedimentation and pollution of the watercourse from surface runoff of water following heavy rainfall.

It can be used where watercourses form one or more boundaries and livestock are present for at least three months of the year and currently have access to the watercourse.

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 five years. The new fencing must result in, or contribute to, the effective exclusion of stock.

If you are a tenant, you may need consent from the landowner 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. You should ensure any relevant consents are gained before carrying out the work (eg Scheduled Monument consent from English Heritage). 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.
  • In the first year of the agreement erect fencing in straight lines between strainer posts. The fencing must be 1–4 m from the top of the watercourse bank. 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 should be used at each end of the fence and at each corner or turning point. They 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 set 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.
  • At least three lines of wire 350 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.


Fencing off of watercourses maintains the stability of banks and helps prevent erosion

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