Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs
I commissioned Equiventus Ltd. to review the Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014 (the Act) on behalf of the Welsh Government, fulfilling the commitment made by the then Minister for Natural Resources and Food to do so within three years of the Act coming into force. The review was commissioned to consider whether the Act:
• is fit for purpose and Local Authorities who have used or are using the legislation are complying with the requirements of the Act; and
• has resulted in benefits to communities across Wales as well as being in the best interests in welfare terms of the animals concerned.
The Welsh Government acted quickly to introduce the Act in response to calls for urgent action by Local Authorities, equine charities and the Police to tackle the problem of fly grazing, straying and abandonment of horses and ponies across Wales. The legislation provides Local Authorities in Wales with consistent legal powers to address issues connected with fly grazing.
I am pleased the report finds: ‘In the three years since the introduction of the Control of Horses (Wales) Act 2014 there is clear evidence to show a reduction in the number of horses reported and ultimately removed, due to fly grazing straying or abandonment’.
The report further notes: ‘The evidence available demonstrates the reduction in this behavior is attributed to a number of key factors: these include the swift introduction of the Act, an increase in education programmes for horse owners, the rise in public awareness of the potential problem and improved collaborative working across all stakeholders to address concerns’.
It is clear from the report’s findings, the Act has made a positive impact but this is not to say there is no room for improvement.
I have asked my officials to provide the report and highlight the recommendations to all Local Authorities in Wales and those stakeholders who contributed to the process. I have also asked my officials to discuss the recommendations with members of the Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group with a view to establishing a partnership approach to the development of proposals to deliver on the report recommendations where change is considered appropriate.
I am grateful to Equiventus Ltd., for the time and expertise they brought to the review, and to all those who gave their time to contribute so readily to help inform the process. The formal Welsh Government response to the 14 recommendations made by Equiventus Ltd. is published on the Welsh Government website alongside the report.