As welfare charities and local authorities struggled to rescue hundreds of horses in recent weeks, MPs will voice their concern about the impact of the horse crisis in England at a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday 26 November.
Members of the public are being asked to encourage their MPs to attend the important debate and they can do so quickly here: http://bit.ly/Um6rKc.
MPs are expected to call for tougher laws to address the increasingly damaging practice of ‘fly grazing’ where horses are placed on land without permission and left to fend for themselves. Fly grazing is a major contributing factor in the horse crisis where an estimated 7,000 horses are at immediate risk of neglect and abandonment in England and Wales. Around half of these are fly grazed.
Current laws do not adequately allow swift action in cases of fly grazing. Up to eight different pieces of legislation can apply depending on the situation, requiring legal advice and a lengthy process to resolve the situation. This has caused immense problems for communities in Wales, leading to the Welsh Government to fast track proposals for the Control of Horses Bill, which would allow authorities to address fly grazing more directly and effectively.
“If Westminster does not join Wales in bringing in tougher laws they will sleepwalk into a worsening of the horse crisis in England,” said David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs for the RSPCA.
There is evidence that this is already happening. After a Welsh authority put pressure on fly grazers, hundreds of horses believed to come from Wales were moved to locations in Hampshire and Surrey where they were left to fend for themselves and escape onto major roads. Dozens had to be rescued by the RSPCA and Redwings Horse Sanctuary.
Similarly, the Westminster debate coincides with news reports of a major operation in Wales where the RSPCA, Redwings and the Vale of Glamorgan Council removed over 300 horses from a site in Glamorgan, while over 100 needed to be euthanased on welfare grounds.
“This was an incredibly difficult operation for everyone involved but we are pleased we were able to rescue as many horses as we did. The welfare concerns were so severe that we were able to take action quickly. However, we have seen numerous situations across England and Wales involving abandonment or fly grazing where there are major welfare issues but the authorities have been unable to act because of the complex and inadequate legislation,” said Nic de Brauwere, Head of Welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.
Welfare charities including Blue Cross, British Horse Society, HorseWorld, RSPCA, Redwings and World Horse Welfare have been warning the government and public for more than a year that Britain was facing a ‘horse crisis’ with an estimated 7,000 horses at risk of abandonment and neglect. They updated their report, Left on the Verge, in summer this year.
The public is being asked to encourage their MPs to attend the Westminster Hall debate and call for England to take action against this growing and damaging practice which is causing severe horse welfare problems, threats to the livelihoods of farmers and risks and disruption to local communities.
The public can easily contact their MPs to ask them to attend here: http://bit.ly/Um6rKc
Find out more on the Redwings website, http://www.redwings.org.uk/news-updatedhorsecrisis.php