Horse owners across Derbyshire are being warned of a new law aimed at clamping down on people abandoning horses.
The Control of Horses Act 2015, which comes into force today (Tuesday), makes changes to the law to deter illegal or ‘fly-grazing’, the common practice of unlawfully grazing horses on private or public land without the landowner’s permission.
The horses may not necessarily have been abandoned but the land is being used illegally. Up to 3,000 horses are thought to be illegally fly-grazing across the country.
Minister George Eustice said: “These changes to the law will give rural communities greater powers to deal with thousands of horses that are left to graze illegally without the landowners’ permission.
“Horses that are left to fly-graze can now be rehomed much more quickly and effectively, improving the welfare of these animals and preventing disruption to communities.
“By allowing abandoned horses to be rehomed much more quickly, this act will encourage owners to pay proper attention to their animals’ welfare and ensure communities are no longer blighted by the illegal practice of fly-grazing.”
The changes mean that horse owners who fly-graze their animals without permission can now be dealt with more quickly and efficiently.
Henry Robinson, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) 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 swift action to resolve the problem by, for example, re-homing the horses to charities or privately.”
Under the previous Animals Act 1971 an abandoned horse could only be disposed of after 14 days through sale at market or public auction. The new act means fly-grazing horses have to be reported to police within 24 hours, and owners now have four days to claim their animals.