Equine charities and countryside organisations have welcomed the news that a private members bill to tackle illegal fly-grazing passed its second reading last week (24 October).
The Control of Horses Bill has been brought forward by MP for York Outer Julian Sturdy, who has worked with local groups to try to tackle the problem in his constituency.
The MP wants England to follow in the footsteps of Wales, which introduced legislation in January giving local authorities the power to seize or impound horses abandoned on public or private land without permission.
In the debate, Mr Sturdy stressed the seriousness of the problem for the people it affects.
“I appreciate that to some the problem of fly-grazing might seem somewhat mundane, but try telling that to the farmer whose crops are being destroyed, to the motorist whose life is endangered by a horse on the road, or to the animal welfare charities who work tirelessly every single day to rescue these horses from the miserable existence to which so many have been condemned,” he said.
The bill will now continue to committee stage, where it will be examined in detail by a panel of MPs.
The CLA, National Farmers’ Union and Countryside Alliance have joined forces with the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, Redwings, the British Horse Society and Blue Cross to support the bill.
The Countryside Alliance’s Barney White-Spunner said: “The issues of fly-grazing and loose horses cause misery and mayhem to individuals, businesses and authorities around England and a great deal of suffering to the horses dumped and mistreated in this way.
“Until now the legal powers to address the problem have been lacking but if this bill is passed it will be a significant step forward for animal welfare and landowners’ rights. We now call on the Government to give this Bill a fair wind in Committee Stage, and ensure it is given adequate parliamentary time in successive stages.”
The RSPCA reiterated that 70% of horses taken in by the charity cannot be linked to an owner.
The RPSCa’s David Bowles said: “We are pleased that the government has decided it wants to help to solve this problem.
“Horse owners need to be made accountable for their animals and power needs to be given back to enforcers.”