New legislation to tackle flygrazing - which sees horses left on public or private land without permission - has been welcomed by farmers and rural groups in the North East.
The Control of Horses Bill started life as a Private Members’ Bill championed by York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, following years of lobbying by groups including NFU and the CLA.
The bill has now completed its successful passage through Parliament, meaning it will become law ahead of May’s Generel Election and giving people the ability to deal with what has been described as a “devastating” problem for landowners and farmers.
Both Northumberland and County Durham have been said to be hotspots for the problem and NFU regional director Richard Pearson said farmers across the region would be pleased that the problem is being taken seriously.
“Our members have been working for years to engage with the police, local authorities and politicians on the issue of flygrazing,” he said.
“The good news is that this perseverance is now paying dividends. We have seen some great initiatives by the police in County Durham and North Yorkshire, and local authorities including City of York and Durham County Council.
“Today’s news is the latest breakthrough and we really are delighted, but work will no doubt continue to tackle what for many has been a blight on their farm businesses and family life.”
The act brings England into line with Wales, where a similar law was introduced last year, and enables landowners to move horses from their land after 96 hours compared to the current 14 days.
CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “We are delighted that farmers and landowners will at last be able to deal with fly-grazed horses in a timely, humane and cost-effective manner without damage to land or at risk of liability for horses left illegally on their land.
“In its original form, the Bill would have put our members at a disadvantage by not allowing them the same controls as local authorities so we are pleased the Government has now responded to our concerns by extending powers in the Bill to private landowners.”
The CLA last year produced a report on the issue - Stop the scourge: time to address unlawful fly-grazing in England - and was involved in the Parliamentary process that led to the law being framed.