Clearing Hurdles: CLA policy on creating a modern and thriving equine business sector
The equine sector generates around £4billion a year for the rural economy, one of the largest contributions. However, the sector is also one of the most fragmented. So, it is important to stress that co-operation with other organisations will be vital to implement the policies in this publication.
The CLA paper, Clearing Hurdles: CLA policy on creating a modern and thriving equine business sector , sets out CLA policy on the equine business sector. It covers the need to enable equine businesses to thrive, the impact of the equine sector in caring for the countryside, and the role equine businesses play in enabling the public to enjoy the countryside.
To help equine business thrive, the CLA is urging the Government to reform the planning system so it is cheaper, simpler and faster. All too often, equine businesses are unable to develop because of restrictions put in place by the planning system. The CLA provides a "one-stop-shop", giving advisory and political support to the equine sector.
The CLA believes the Government should consider deregulation for smaller business tenancies while respecting the rights of those who own property. Moreover, best practice should be based on guidance rather than a prescriptive regulatory approach. In addition, equine businesses must be able to benefit from the significant communication and marketing advantages that superfast broadband provides. That is why the CLA is calling for a minimum of five megabits per second (Mbps) symmetric broadband speed for all in rural areas.
Insurance and the issue of insurance premiums remain difficult. The CLA is calling on the Government to make good its promise to amend the Animals Act. Costs for equine businesses have also increased as a result of the business rates system. This needs to be made simpler and the recent abolition of the partial exemption on empty commercial property must be reversed.
Equine businesses have a responsibility to ensure proper pasture management and to encourage biodiversity. The CLA believes a flexible approach has to be taken to stocking densities, reflecting the type of land and the activities for which the horses are used. The CLA also believes all equine businesses must ensure full compliance with Defra's Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids.
Equine business must similarly comply with the statutory regulations regarding water. The same is true for waste disposal, and equine businesses must be aware that Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) rules apply to horses that are kept on farms, or where a livery yard or stud farm is being operated.
As a direct result of CLA lobbying, many equine businesses are eligible to claim the Single Farm Payment. In light of the proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to be implemented in 2014, the CLA is lobbying for certain equine activities to continue on land receiving payment under the CAP schemes.
The CLA does not believe the public rights of way network is suited to use in present times because it neither takes into account landowners' needs nor the recreational hopes of the rider. We need a modern, flexible network that simplifies the present cumbersome process of modifying routes and which also must reflect contemporary land management and recreational needs.
Equine tourism is not simply about riding. It incorporates myriad potential activities ranging from trekking to hacking, eventing to horse racing. For the equine business operator, the often-shifting regulations and tax rules and the complexities of the planning system mean many equine businesses fail to realise their full tourism potential. This must be put right.
This publication sets out the policy changes that the CLA believes will remove many of the hurdles currently facing equine businesses. The importance of making these policy changes cannot be underestimated. Without the right policy and advisory framework for the equine sector, the industry will remain fragmented and its economic potential will stay underexploited.
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Dr Charles Trotman
An economist, advises on rural economic issues, particularly food policy, rural tourism, equine issues and telecoms policy.
T: 020 7460 7936
T: 020 7460 7934
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