New fly grazing rules to come into force

Fly grazing in York
Fly grazing in York
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FARMERS WILL have more immediate powers to deal with fly grazing horses on their land when new laws come into force this week.

From Tuesday, landowners will only be obliged to give the owners of such animals four working days to remove them from their land.

When those 96 hours are up and if the animals remain, the landowner will be able to either sell them at an auction; keep the horses; humanely euthanise them or gift them to charity.

Under existing laws landowners can only remove the animals after 14 days’ notice, at the end of which any animals that remain must be sold at auction.

PC Sarah Wood, North Yorkshire Police’s wildlife officer for Selby, said she is contacted by landowners who have had horses left on their land “quite a few times a year”.

“It causes a lot of problems for farmers. They have grown grass in their fields all summer for their cattle or for silage or haylage and these horses are left there and damage their crops.

“By law, if they are not claimed after 14 days, they have to put these horses through auction, they have to passport them and transport them, and they may only get a small return that doesn’t cover the cost. The new law is so much better.”

The new legislation came about after lobbying by the National Farmers’ Union, the Country Land and Business Association, the Countryside Alliance and several animal welfare charities.

York, and parts of West and South Yorkshire, are known fly grazing hotspots, and York Outer MP Julian Sturdy introduced a private members’ bill to push through the changes. Charities estimate that more than 3,000 horses are fly-grazed in England.