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THE British Horse Society (BHS), British Equestrian Federation (BEF), British Driving Society (BDS) and H&H — on behalf of the entire horse industry — are petitioning for drivers of large horseboxes to be excluded from laws over compulsory and prohibitive rest periods.

In the 2 April issue, H&H reported how the UK body responsible for enforcing transport regulations, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) had effectively banned anyone with a full-time job from driving their HGV [over 7.5 tonne] lorry at weekends by strictly interpreting a European law.

Since 2006, large horseboxes have had to be fitted with a tachograph and HGV drivers required to keep records of driving time. Under EC Regulation 561/2006) drivers must take weekly rest periods of either 24 or 45 hours from any work — not just driving.

The horse industry reacted in outrage to the implication that any rider or parent of rider who has a completely unconnected job to their hobby is not legally be allowed yo drive their horses in a large horsebox for both days of every weekend.

An exception (derogation) to the EC regulation has already been made for the Territorial Army, and BHS chief executive Graham Cory has written twice to Geoff Hoon, Secretary of State for Transport, requesting a meeting to discuss the issue.

“There is such a disjuncture between the requirements of the regulation and the realities of our sport that we must urgently seek a derogation,” said Mr Cory. “The more signatures on the petition, the stronger will be our hand in our discussions with UK ministers and Brussels.”

As well as seeking a meeting with Mr Hoon, the horse industry group has launched a petition calling on the government to apply to the EC for a derogation for horsebox drivers. We also plan to ask legal experts to analyse the legislation, and galvanise support among MPs.

A number of politicians have already agreed to help lobby the government, including Deputy Speaker in the House of Commons, Sir Michael Lord; David Jones, the shadow minister for Wales; Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South; Carl Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside and Conservative MEP for the West Midlands Philip Bradbourn.

Sign the petition now! We need to collect at least 100,000 signatures.