Risk to motorists from fly-grazing stray horses kept next to St Albans arterial road

Lynn Myland with some horses which are being kept on land next to the A414

Lynn Myland with some horses which are being kept on land next to the A414 - Credit: Archant

Police time is being wasted rounding up stray horses grazing verges alongside a busy arterial road in St Albans to prevent the animals from colliding with motorists.

The problem has again been the focus of attention at a stakeholders’ meeting to target the countywide problem of fly grazing.

One of the affected roads is the A414 in Colney Heath where in the space of 12 months more than 40 horses - mostly travellers’ - were removed or put down after being struck by vehicles.

Fly grazing is when someone else’s land is used without permission to graze animals.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Herts David Lloyd joined local authorities, the National Farmers’ Union, charities, land owners, St Albans MP Anne Main and the Herts branch of the British Horse Society (BHS) to discuss how best to protect the horses from injury or death.

He said: “This is a real problem in Herts which has a large concentration of busy major highways running adjacent to land which is used for fly grazing.”

Many motorists have been affected by long delays on the A414 in Colney Heath as police try to round up stray horses or because drivers have collided with an animal appearing suddenly on the highway.

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BHS county chair Lynn Myland, of Colney Heath, said: “Police have to close the roads, attempt to catch the horses and trace the owners. Quite often no-one comes forward to claim ownership.

“This takes hours of police time and can be stressful for all concerned, especially for a driver who has hit a horse.”

She and fellow stakeholders will meet again after the Government adopts the Control of Horses Bill, expected to be ratified early this year.

The bill will help agencies to detain and remove horses that are fly grazing, with claims for costs against owners.

Mrs Main has been lobbying parliament to ensure the bill applies to both public and private land, and for the reinstatement of a single national database for all equines.

She said: “This is an issue of animal welfare as well as a public safety. The horses are often grazing on toxic plants such a ragwort, as well as being kept in dreadful conditions by their owners.”

If you suspect fly grazing or are concerned for the welfare of horses, please see www.redwings.org.uk/welfare/advice-and-information/abandonment

Phone the police if you find stray horses on the highway.