Horse Society Ragwort Bill enters final stage
that conservations groups were prepared to wreck the British Horse
Society (BHS) initiated Ragwort Control Bill thankfully proved unfounded
in the House of Lords late last night (12 November). Amendments
tabled prior to Report Stage were withdrawn during debate, enabling
the Bill to move one stage closer to becoming law and provide for
a code of practice with evidential status.
1: Page 1, Line 5, leave out 'prevent the spread of' and insert
'reduce the risk of horses dying from eating [Ragwort]' tabled by
the Lord Bishop of Hereford and in particular, Amendment 2: Leave
out Clause 1, tabled by Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville would,
if accepted, have effectively wrecked the Bill at almost the last
stage. The amendments reflected concerns of the Wildlife & Countryside
Link (Link), an umbrella group of 32 member organisations, on the
effect a code of practice to control Ragwort would have on the plant's
Lord Brooke, Link sought assurances from Government Minister Lord
Whitty that environmental issues relating to the control of ragwort
- random use of herbicides and removal of the plant as a source
of food for a number of insects and moths - would be considered,
including undertaking an environmental impact assessment relating
to the code.
BHS, in an earlier response to Link's Position Statement on Ragwort,
had expressed support for such an assessment as it recognises that
to protect horses it's not necessary to eradicate Ragwort completely,
but essential to control it and prevent it from spreading to grazing
land and land used for the production of dried forage.
Whitty advised that the Government would indeed take Link's concerns
into account when amending the draft code following consultation
but could not, at that stage, give assurance on an assessment. On
being asked if research would be undertaken to study how far Ragwort
seeds spread, Lord Whitty replied that he would respond to Lord
Brooke in writing.
chief executive, Kay Driver, said today, "We are pleased that
the Bill is looking set for successful completion and the Society
would like to thank the Government, MPs and members of the House
of Lords for their support of the Ragwort Control Bill, which is
a significant step forward for horse owners worried about the spread
of Ragwort in this country.
BHS is willing to cooperate with conservation groups to ensure a
workable code of practice acceptable to both them and to horse owners.
Horse owners must, and many do, accept their responsibility to undertake
proper pasture management, and the BHS will help to promote this.
However, it is irresponsible of neighbouring or other landowners
to allow Ragwort growing on their land to spread and endanger the
lives of horses.
BHS and the many horse owners in England and Wales are indebted
to John Greenway MP and Baroness Masham for their work involved
in seeing the Ragwort Control Bill through parliament."