Bill on flygrazing expected to become law

A new law on fly-grazing is in the pipeline.

A new law on fly-grazing is in the pipeline. - Credit: Archant

Landowners who find horses left illegally in their fields may have more power to remove the animals thanks to a new law currently before Parliament.

The Bill, which is promoted by Julian Sturdy MP and backed by a host of rural, farming and animal welfare bodies, is expected to become law before the end of this Parliamentary session.

MPs will be participating in the Committee stage debate for the Control of Horses Bill tomorrow.

A number of amendments have been made to the Bill which if successful, will extend powers already proposed for councils to remove fly-grazing horses from public land to private landowners to deal with fly-grazing horses on private land.

Calls to welfare charities about fly-grazing have also risen by two thirds in the past three years following concerns that horses are being abandoned, and large ‘hot spots’ have developed in the eastern region and across the country – with hundreds of animals kept on verges, parkland or farmland in the worst-hit areas.

According to the RSPCA, during 2013 it received 226 calls regarding abandonment, including fly grazing, in Suffolk that related to the welfare of 769 horses.

Regional director Ben Underwood of CLA East, which is supporting the bill, said: “Horses can suffer significant harm if they are left to fend for themselves so it is vital that landowners have the power to act quickly and in the best interest of the welfare of these animals.

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“We are delighted the Government supports our call for the powers in the Bill to be extended to private landowners and not just limited to local authorities.

“It is also vital that MPs support the proposal to cut the time landowners must wait before they can act from 14 days to four and to give them greater options in how they can remove the animals quickly.”