Tuesday, October 15, 2013
New legislation to tackle illegal horse grazing in Wales has been published which would allow councils to destroy horses humanely as a last resort.
Ministers said councils could also impound and return horses to owners that were on land without consent. They plan to "fast track" the Bill through the Senedd so local authorities have the powers as soon as possible. The changes would allow swift intervention to tackle fly grazing, said ministers.
In July, a horse trader was jailed for eight months and banned from keeping horses for five years.
Tom Price, 48, from Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan, was found guilty of 57 animal welfare and cruelty charges after causing unnecessary suffering to 18 horses found at five locations in south Wales.
On Tuesday Natural Resources and Food Minister Alun Davies said fly grazing and the abandonment of horses had had a "truly shocking" impact on some south Wales communities in recent years.
"We know that our current legislative framework does not allow the enforcement bodies to deal with the problem as comprehensively and robustly as we would wish," he said.
"That is why I am introducing the Control of Horses (Wales) Bill which, if passed by the assembly, will give all local authorities in Wales strengthened and uniform powers to work towards a fly grazing-free Wales.
"This legislation promotes more responsible ownership and management of horses and allows for early and swift intervention when horses are abandoned or left on land without consent."
Mr Davies said councils would be able to make a "consistent and robust approach".
"Grave consequences" - Redwings Horse Sanctuary chief executive Lynn Cutress said she had seen firsthand the "devastating" impact of fly grazing in Wales.
"We hope the new Bill will strongly discourage horse owners from using such a disgraceful and illegal practice, which often has grave consequences for the horses involved," she said.
"At Redwings we have seen many examples over the last few years, from low level neglect to abandonment and worse.
"We would urge Westminster to follow suit so we can see a real and drastic improvement in the lives of vulnerable horses throughout the UK."
Welsh ministers said they had more than 600 responses to a consultation on fly grazing earlier this year, with the "vast majority" backing better legislation.
It is understood the new law is due to come into force in mid January.
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