New bill aims to tackle fly-grazing in England

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The growing problem of fly-grazing is being debated in Parliament, following the launch of a new private membersbill in the House of Commons (15 July).

Support group

TheControl of Horses billwas introduced by Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, and has the support of a number of equine welfare charities and countryside organisations.

The bill has already been launched in Wales, giving local authorities the power to seize or impound horses grazing illegally. It is hoped England will follow suit, where an estimated 3,000 horses are fly-grazing on public and private land.

The CLA (Country Land and Business Association), National Farmers’ Union, Countryside Alliance, RSPCA,World Horse Welfare, Redwings, the British Horse Society and Blue Cross are all backing the bill.

Not fit for purpose

RSPCA head of public affairs, David Bowles said: “We have been fighting for several yearsnow for the government to introduce legislation to help tackle the horse crisis. Thisbillprovidesthe government with the opportunity to help local authorities, landowners and animal welfare organisations to tackle theflygrazingproblem.”

Lee Hackett, director of equine policy at the British Horse Society said existing legislation is “not fit for purpose”, while World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers hopes this new bill will be a “wake-up call” to DEFRA.

Strong deterrent

“The laws we have do not protect horses, taxpayers, local authorities,farmers or landowners,” said Roly. “The only people they end up providing any protection to are theperpetrators.

“It is now time for effective laws with real teeth that impose significant consequences onirresponsible owners by allowing authorities to immediately seize the horses they leave on others’land without permission.

“Not only will this enable quicker, cheaper resolution of these cases, it willserve as a strong deterrent and help to protect horse welfare.”