A leading equine charity has accused Defra of “burying its head in the sand” over the fly-grazing crisis in England.

World Horse Welfare chief executive, Roly Owers made his comments after the issue was debated at Westminster last week (26 November).

MPs of various parties called on the Government to bring in tough new measures, like those due to become law in Wales next month (news, 8 August).

But Defra minister George Eustice reiterated the Government line that no new laws would be forthcoming — and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) could be used successfully against fly-grazers.

The Control of Horses (Wales) Bill gives local authorities the power to seize abandoned animals. If they are not claimed by the owners within seven days, they can be rehomed — or euthanased.

Damian Hinds, Conservative MP for East Hampshire — who has seen dozens of horses dumped in his constituency — led the debate. He said similar measures were needed in England.

Mr Hinds added that though the Welsh Bill would not solve the problem, it would make dealing with fly-grazing easier, “which may help to disrupt and discourage sharp practice”.

Shadow environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies promised that Labour would bring in new laws to tackle the “crisis”, if elected.

His comments were welcomed by World Horse Welfare. Roly Owers, who said he hoped ministers would now take fly-grazing more seriously.

This article originally appeared in H&H 5 December 2013.