Six major charities — including World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA — have welcomed the news that it is a “distinct possibility” the government will support changes in legislation to help tackle fly grazing in England.

Last week (1 September) the organisations joined forces and launched a report called Stop the scourge — time to address unlawful fly grazing in England.

Under current laws landowners are powerless to remove horses, and fly grazing calls to charities have increased by more than two-thirds in the past three years.

The report revealed that more than 3,000 horses are currently fly grazing and “hot spot areas” have been identified in the Midlands and Thames Estuary, with “hundreds” of horses kept on verges, parkland and farmland.

The organisations want laws in England to come into line with the Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014, brought in in January. This gives local authorities power to seize dumped horses.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee held a one-day inquiry on fly grazing on 3 September.

“The evidence presented would have left the committee in no doubt about how damaging this practice has become, and the inadequacies of the laws being used to try to address it,” said Roly Owers from World Horse Welfare.

“We were encouraged that Lord de Mauley stated new or updated legislation ‘is a distinct possibility,’ in reference to Defra’s support for the Private Members’ Bill sponsored by Julian Sturdy MP for a Control of Horses Act in England along the lines of that in Wales.”

David Bowles of the RSPCA added: “We are pleased the government has recognised the law needs clarifying. It is a welcome step forward and we hope that new legislation could be on the Statute Book by the end of this Parliament.”

This story was first published in H&H magazine on 11 September 2014