New legislation to tackle fly-grazing, where horses are grazed on private and public land without permission, comes into force today.
The Control of Horses Bill started life as a Private Members’ Bill championed by York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, following years of lobbying by the NFU, other farming stakeholders and horse charities. It successfully passed through parliament and gained Royal Assent on March 26.
Thousands of farmers and landowners across the country are affected every year and many describe the impacts on their businesses as “devastating”.
NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “After many years of lobbying for improved powers, our members will be reassured that from today their problems with horses being grazed illegally on their land will be taken seriously.
“Fly-grazed horses threaten the livelihood of farmers, damage land, divert local authority resources and risk the safety of motorists when they escape on to roads. This new legislation will enable farmers and landowners to remove unwanted horses quickly and effectively while action will be less expensive to take.
“The NFU would like to publicly thank York Outer MP Julian Sturdy for his tenacity and interest in this issue and for helping to raise the problems of fly-grazing on a national scale.”
Commenting, Julian Sturdy MP, said: “It is fantastic news that farmers and local councils will now have the tools they need to rescue horses that are being illegally fly-grazed. I was fortunate enough to have received the full support of a wide range of animal welfare and countryside organisations, who were united in their goal to see these changes brought into force.
“There is now no excuse for allowing horses and ponies to be abandoned to a lifetime of neglect and I hope to see many more animals rehomed in the near future.”
How we can help...
To help its members deal with the problem, the NFU has produced a ‘Fly-grazing Farmer Information Pack’ containing a wealth of information including useful tips on prevention, guidance on action that can be taken and signs for on-farm use. It also includes information on the legislative framework associated with fly-grazing, which will be updated as necessary.
In addition, some financial assistance will be available to members subscribing to the NFU’s Legal Assistance Scheme – providing a fixed-rate contribution towards the cost of bailiff-assisted removal, as well as other methods set out in the pack.
To assist with the removals process the NFU has appointed GRC Bailiffs as its nominated firm.
For more information, to order an Information Pack or to be referred to GRC Bailiffs, members should contact NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.