Passport issuing organisations (PIOs) are to present proposals for the future of passports to Defra following an about-turn.

Representatives from all the UK’s 70-plus PIOs met on 31 March and have formed a steering committee to identify the issues raised by uncertainty over their future.

Stephanie Evans of the British Driving Society said: “The meeting was very positive. We are all united to ensure we get the best possible result for breed societies, Defra and the UK’s horses.”

In January, Defra announced plans to reduce the number of PIOs in the UK from the current large number to one, which would also be responsible for a National Equine Database (NED).

This would mean Defra no longer paid for the NED.

The announcement caused a furore (news, 20 January), but the plan was retracted by Defra just eight weeks later (news, 17 March).

John Shenfield of the British Hanoverian Horse Society said: “The gut feeling of PIOs is that we must continue to have a national equine database. If there were a disease outbreak we need to know where horses are to allocate resources.”

PIOs were asked to send their views to the steering committee. These will then be discussed with Defra.

For more up-to-date news, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (28 April, 2011)