Equine organisations have welcomed a new bill they hope will help tackle the growing issue of fly-grazing.
The Control of Horses Bill was given its third reading this week (18 March), and will become law before the general election.
The legislation will make it easier for land owners, local authorities and welfare charities to take action over dumped and fly-grazed horses.
The bill will also bring England into line with Wales, which introduced a similar law in early 2014.
“After almost three years of campaigning, all of the organisations in our coalition are delighted that the bill has successfully been passed and will become law before the election,” said Roly Owers of World Horse Welfare.
“This law will make a big difference to horse welfare, as charities have been struggling to help the thousands of horses being bred indiscriminately and kept without proper care.
“It will also help landowners, farmers, communities and taxpayers as it will make action to remove horses much more swift, straightforward and less expensive to take. The success of the Welsh legislation demonstrates that these laws will work if they are used — so do use them.”
A coalition of charities and organisations championed this Private Member’s Bill, introduced in the Commons by Member of Parliament for York Outer Julian Sturdy.
The updated law will require landowners to keep any horses placed on their land for only four working days, as opposed to the current two weeks, and will allow more options to dispose of the horses besides public sale, such as gifting them to a charity, selling them privately or humane euthanasia.
The bill will receive Royal Assent within the next fortnight and thereby become law.
“This new act represents a significant step forward for horse welfare and will help local authorities and private landowners tackle the scourge of fly-grazing,” said the Countryside Alliance head of political affairs James Legge.
“The co-operation of all the political parties, all leading rural and welfare organisations and the support given by the Government demonstrates the consensus that this law is much needed. We would like to thank Julian Sturdy MP for taking up this issue and urge public and private landowners to make use of the new law.”