DEPARTMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS
Ragwort Control Act
Ragwort Control Bill received Royal Assent on  November and
is now an Act. It applies to England and Wales, and will come into
force on  February 2004.
new Ragwort Control Act amends the Weeds Act 1959 and provides specifically
for more effective management of ragwort, a poisonous weed which
is responsible every year for the deaths and illness of many horses
and other livestock. It enables the Secretary of State, or National
Assembly for Wales, as appropriate, to make a Code of
Practice for landowners and occupiers to prevent the spread of Ragwort.
It will also assist landowners and others to strike the right balance
between the protection of animal welfare and the need to preserve
bio-diversity within the countryside. The Code will also be admissible
in evidence if enforcement proceedings under the Weeds
Act are necessary
Bill was sponsored by The British Horse Society to help protect
horses from Ragwort poisoning. It was presented to Parliament as
a Private Member's Bill by John Greenway MP. The Government gave
its backing to the Bill and welcomes its successful passage through
Government has already worked with the British Horse Society to
prepare a draft Code of Practice to prevent and control the spread
of Ragwort. This was launched by Rural Affairs Minister and Minister
for the Horse Alun Michael, at the Royal International Horse Show
at Hickstead in July. A separate but similar code is being developed
the National Assembly for Wales.
Michael welcomed the Bill's success and said the legislation marked
a new phase in protecting horse welfare:
will be marked by co-operation in action between horse owners and
the Government. Defra is committed to give priority to complaints
about weed enforcement where horses and livestock are at risk or
when weed spread will affect fodder" (see notes to Editors).
that the Bill is an Act, the draft Code will be reviewed in the
light of comments received so far. There will be then be a further
opportunity for formal consultation on the revised Code of Practice,
which we expect to publish early next year to coincide with the
new law coming into effect.