Have your say on 'fly-grazing' horses policy

26 August 2016

Problems posed by the fly-grazing of horses and ponies have prompted a new joint initiative by Newark and Sherwood District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, linked to a survey aimed at  generating suggestions from the public and other agencies such as the police and local town or parish councils.

A 55-page guide entitled ‘Management of illegally placed horses’ has been produced jointly by the two local authorities. The document sets out concerns raised both for public safety and for the welfare of the animals involved as well as bringing together the legal measures that can be taken, using a partnership approach to tackle the problem as effectively as possible.

Newark and Sherwood Anti-Social Behaviour Officer Terry Bailey said: “Local authorities are often the first to be contacted when a member of the public or a landowner or animal welfare charity is concerned about a fly-grazing horse.

“They may be unsure about the law and what can be done. They may also be worried about tackling the horse owner and whether they can reclaim the cost of any damage. The district council receives many requests for assistance from farmers and companies in Newark and from further afield as well as dealing with the problem of fly-grazing on their own land.

“We accept that the community is blighted by fly-grazing but members of the public frequently help us to deal with instances effectively and quickly by reporting problems to us.  We would like to hear any suggestions they might have to help us to make this process work better.”

Some residents of houses close to grassland illegally used for fly-grazing have expressed fears that the horses could charge at them or bite them. Horses defecating and urinating on these spaces has been another problem and there are obvious safety concerns over horses running lose near highways or tethered to roadside verges where they might break free and become a danger to traffic as well as to themselves.

The guide aims to help council officers and other agencies to make effective and consistent  decisions about how best to tackle horse-related issues in their areas, while offering practical advice to people who contact authorities, often desperately looking for help in dealing with the consequences of fly-grazing.

It lists all the relevant legislation which could be deployed to take owners to court who illegally place horses, ponies, donkeys or hybrid combinations on land belonging to councils or private landowners.

“We need to have a joined-up approach with other local councils and with agencies such as the police to tackle the issue of fly-grazing in the district,” said Mr Bailey.

Other potential measures include social housing providers including a clause in tenancy agreements to prevent tenants tethering horses, ponies, donkeys or other livestock on play areas or other publicly-owned land. If a fly-grazer is also a local tenant, this could put them at risk of eviction from their home if the conditions are breached.

Said Mr Bailey: “It’s important that horse owners look after their animals properly and we have a duty to ensure that the community is properly protected. Horses need adequate land for grazing and to be able to exercise safely.

We would very much like to get the views of the community on our plans and to raise awareness amongst all the agencies involved as to how we can best tackle fly-grazing now and in the future.”

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