Groups welcome new law to halt fly-grazing

Fly-grazing.
Fly-grazing.

Years of NFU lobbying to give farmers, landowners and local authorities more powers to deal with abandoned horses and ponies has cleared its final Parliamentary hurdle.

The Control of Horses Bill will now become law before the General Election in May.

It started as a Private Members’ Bill by Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, and the NFU congratulates him for his hard work and perseverance.

The new legislation will help deter and swiftly resolve cases of ‘fly-grazing’ – the practice of placing horses on private and public land without permission.

It will bring England into line with Wales, which introduced a similar law in early 2014 and may have led to the practice growing in England where charities estimate that the number of horses flygrazed to be more than 3,000, causing misery for horses, communities and taxpayers.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “After many years of lobbying for improved powers for our members, the NFU is delighted that the Bill has completed all Parliamentary stages and will become law before the General Election on May 7. The new legislation will enable farmers and landowners to remove unwanted horses from their land and in a much more straightforward way while action will be less expensive to take.

“Farmers can suffer significant financial losses caused by fly-grazing so they need the option of taking action quickly to reduce or prevent damage.

“The law will also 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.”

The CLA, which represents rural owners of land, property and business, also welcomed the new law. North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “We are delighted that farmers and landowners will at last be able to deal with fly-grazed horses in a timely, humane and cost-effective manner without damage to land or at risk of liability for horses left illegally on their land.”