New powers for landowners dealing with illegally fly-grazed horses as law comes into force

26 May 2015

From today farmers and other landowners dealing with horses illegally abandoned on their land can take swifter action to resolve the problem.

The new Control of Horses Act comes into force in England today (26 May) giving landowners greater powers to deal with horses left illegally on their land.

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, worked closely with a coalition of rural organisations and animal welfare charities to drive the Private Members’ Bill through Parliament following its introduction by Julian Sturdy MP in 2014.

Landowners can now take fly-grazed horses to a place of safety immediately, notifying local police within 24 hours. If no owner is identified in four working days, the landowner can take action such as re-homing the horses to charities or selling them privately.

CLA President Henry Robinson said: “We pressed for this new law so that farmers and landowners can act for swift resolution when faced with the problem of horses illegally abandoned on their land.

“Fly-grazed horses can damage land, crops and fencing, restrict space for livestock and cost money to provide for their welfare and safety. It has been very difficult, time consuming and expensive for landowners to deal with these situations but from today they can take swifter action to resolve the problem by, for example, re-homing the horses to charities or privately.”  

A report highlighting the increasing problem of fly-grazing, Stop the scourge - time to address unlawful fly-grazing in England, was published in September 2014. In 2014 CLA President Henry Robinson met with Defra to discuss the issue and gave oral evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee inquiry into the causes and impacts of fly-grazing.