Neil Parish, MP of Parliament for Tiverton and Honiton, spoke recently in a Westminster Hall debate on the ‘fly grazing’ of horses. Fly grazing is the practice of placing horses on land without permission, often in inappropriate places such as verges, playing fields or farmland. Estimates are that 3,000 horses are being fly-grazed in Wales, and 2,500 in England. This is causing horses to suffer and die, as well as risks to public safety and problems for land owners, including local authorities, the police and entire communities.
Neil, who is also Chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, had met earlier this month to discuss the issue of fly-grazing with representatives from World Horse Welfare, a charity that campaigns on animal welfare and works to rescue and re-home horse.
Mr Parish also raised the issue of fly-grazing in the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, of which he is a member, and asked the committee to consider conducting an Inquiry in to the regulation around fly-grazing.
In recent years, fly-grazing has become a serious issue for farmers. We believe that improved collaboration between police and local authorities can help to address the problem, but that ultimately legislation is needed.
Speaking in the Westminster Hall debate on the 26th November, Neil Parish said:
“I also congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. Does he agree that one of the great problems is the traceability of these ponies and horses? We must ensure that we know where they are. We have 70 or 80 passport-issuing agencies; there is no central database. We need to know where the horses are and who they belong to if we are to take action to stop fly-grazing and the welfare problems”.
Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire, who had tabled the debate, replied:
“My honourable Friend rightly raises one of the significant underlying issues, and it is one that I will return to later.”
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 26 November 2013, c35WH)