Equine charities and countryside organisations have welcomed the launch of a private members bill to tackle illegal fly-grazing, which was launched in the House of Commons yesterday (15 July).

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 issue in his constituency.

The MP is keen for 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.

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.

Redwings chief executive Lynn Cutress said: “We are delighted that Mr Sturdy is willing to take this forwards and we can only hope that the government sees fit to follow the example set by Wales and clamp down on the unacceptable practice of fly-grazing at last.

“The charities cannot just continue picking up the pieces.”

Countryside Alliance executive chairman, Sir Barney White-Spunner added:  “There is widespread recognition of the seriousness of the problem of fly-grazing for land managers and in terms of public safety and horse welfare.  There is full agreement among stakeholders and across all parties that legislation is needed.

“The government should take the opportunity presented by this Bill by giving it adequate parliamentary time so that a real step forward in horse welfare can be achieved before the general election.  It is time for the Government to listen and to take action.”

For more reaction to the proposals, including the challenges local councils may face when rounding up and housing illegally fly-grazed horses, see a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine.