The government has denied that the new Animal Health Bill could be a threat to horses

The government department dealing with the new Animal Health Bill has said that the proposednew legislation will not apply to horses in an FMD outbreak.

The bill is designed to give government officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs more power to enter premises and slaughter animals to prevent the spread of the disease.

It will also reduce compensation payable to farmers who resist DEFRA action or are considered to have contributed to the spread of FMD.

The British Horse Society had expressed “grave reservations” about the bill, but it says it has now received assurances from DEFRA that there is no cause for alarm for horse owners.

A DEFRA spokesperson told Horse & Hound Online: “There is no need for horse owners to be concerned. As it stands the bill only applies to FMD susceptible animals, such as cattle, sheep and pigs.”

DEFRA explained that the bill also listed a table of diseases, including African horse sickness, for which the body might apply for an extension of legislation.

However, this would only come after a debate in the Commons if such a disease became a problem in this country.

The Countryside Action Network has launched a campaign against the Animal Health Bill.

To sign a petition visit:www.petitiononline.com/CAN1/petition.html or www.countrysideaction.net