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Alun Michael’s request to meet John Jackson of the Countryside Alliance to discuss the “practical issues” of what to do with horses and hounds in the event of the hunting ban coming into force, has been turned down.

In a letter to Mr Jackson last week, Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael expressed concern over the fate of horses and hounds associated with hunts once the ban comes in to force on 18 February. He requested a meeting with alliance representatives and other interested parties in order to discuss “the practical issues”.

In his reply, Mr Jackson defended hunts, stating that they would continue to regularly exercise their dogs and horses while the CA attempts to overturn the ban in the courts: “I believe that hunts and others intend to keep their positions intact by regularly exercising their dogs and, if relevant, their horses. That being the case it seems that no redundancy of dogs and horses arising from the situation you have created is in prospect.”

He went on to say that any consultation, especially under the government’s sponsorship, would be an “unwarranted interference in matters [hunts] understand very well.”

A spokeswoman for DEFRA told Horse & Hound Online that the government intends to press ahead with consultations on the issue of animal welfare with various other organisations.

“The government wants to minimise the animal welfare implications and will work with organisations that are willing to participate to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. It will be a huge disappointment if the Countryside Alliance does not engage in the work,” she said.