British Horse Society urges all Horse Owners to obtain Final
Draft of Ragwort code
British Horse Society (BHS) has welcomed the final draft of the
Ragwort code of practice recently published by Defra. However, there
still remains an area of concern over guideline distances for risk
assessment. The Society urges all horse owners, along with landowners
and other grazing animal owners, to obtain a copy of the code, and
to submit their comments.
The initial draft code of practice to prevent the spread of Ragwort
was launched at the Royal International Horse Show last July and
has since undergone rigorous scrutiny by interested organisations,
including the BHS, Local Government Authority, Network Rail, Highways
Agency and several conservation groups.
The area that still concerns the BHS relates to distances given
in the guidelines to assess high, medium and low risk infestations
of Ragwort in regard to proximity to land used for grazing horses
and other livestock, and land used for feed and/or forage production.
The code suggests high risk is when > '> Ragwort is present
and flowering/seeding within 50m of land used for grazing by horses
and other animals or land used for feed/forage production> '>
; medium risk is when > '> Ragwort is present within 50m to
100m of land used for grazing by horses and other animals or land
used for feed/forage production> '> ; and low risk is considered
to be when > '> Ragwort, or the land on which it is present
is more than 100m from land used for grazing by horses and other
animals or land used for feed/forage production> '> .
The code then goes on to suggest that particular local circumstances
should be taken into account when using the guidelines; however,
the BHS still considers the parameters to be too narrow. The Society
is asking any horse owner who has had problems with Ragwort growing
outside of the suggested parameters, to provide evidence of that
problem to Defra.
Although the BHS is pleased that the wording has been amended from
the original draft to show that these distances are guidelines,
it does not feel sufficient emphasis is given to that fact. Furthermore,
the BHS fears that landowners/occupiers will hide behind these guidelines
to avoid taking action, as has already been shown in correspondence
sent to the BHS by a riding school proprietor last year.
All comments on the draft code of practice should be submitted by
9 June to Mrs Judith Marsden, Defra, Farm Focus Division, Area 2C,
Ergon House, Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AL or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
<mailto:email@example.com> Copies of the code
can be downloaded from the Defra website: www.defra.gov.uk <http://www.defra.gov.uk>.
The BHS initiated the code of practice to prevent the spread of
Ragwort, which is provided for in the Ragwort Control Act 2003.
The Act was also initiated by the BHS, and the Society played a
leading role in the steering group set up to produce the code.