Emma takes lead on wor­ry­ing is­sue

The Galloway News - - FARMING - Stephen Nor­ris

Pro­pos­als for new leg­is­la­tion gov­ern­ing live­stock wor­ry­ing have been warmly wel­comed by NFU Scot­land.

The union has been cam­paign­ing for stricter laws to ad­dress in­creas­ing dog at­tacks on sheep across the coun­try.

Now South of Scot­land SNP MSP Emma Harper is to consult on a Mem­bers’ Bill at Holy­rood de­signed to tackle the is­sue.

Ms Harper an­nounced the move at a Na­tional Sheep As­so­ci­a­tion re­cep­tion in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment re­cently.

The MSP de­cided ac­tion was needed af­ter re­ceiv­ing strong rep­re­sen­ta­tions from farm­ers and agri­cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Ms Harper wants to en­sure the “con­sol­i­da­tion of var­i­ous forms of leg­is­la­tion” which touch on live­stock wor­ry­ing.

She said: “Re­search has in­di­cated that cur­rent leg­is­la­tion ei­ther doesn’t ad­e­quately make ref­er­ence to live­stock and wildlife wor­ry­ing or is not strong enough to pre­vent it.

“Also, the Scot­tish Out­door Ac­cess Code does not specif­i­cally make it an obli­ga­tion to keep dogs un­der strict con­trol when ac­cess­ing the coun­try­side and work­ing fields – nor does it give clear guid­ance on penal­ties which can be im­posed on cul­prits.”

“The new bill would be con­cise, un­der­stand­able and give clear guid­ance on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of dog own­ers.

“It will also al­low for the es­tab­lish­ment of con­se­quences for breaches of the proposed leg­is­la­tion.”

She added: “Live­stock wor­ry­ing is an enor­mous is­sue which I know is of con­cern to peo­ple across the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

“Ir­re­spon­si­ble dog own­ers who al­low their dogs to roam the coun­try­side out of con­trol to worry, at­tack and mu­ti­late live­stock is harm­ful not just to an­i­mal wel­fare but can have se­vere fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions for farm­ers.

“I would en­cour­age all to feed into the con­sul­ta­tion and I look for­ward to en­gag­ing with stake­hold­ers.”

NFU Scot­land said clear new pow­ers were needed to deal with live­stock wor­ry­ing.

Pres­i­dent Andrew McCor­nick, from Lochfoot, said: “I am de­lighted that Emma Harper is tak­ing a Mem­bers’ Bill to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and I look for­ward to work­ing with her to push through this badly needed leg­isla­tive change.

“NUFS is lead­ing the charge on this is­sue, as we recog­nise the cost to in­dus­try caused by un­con­trolled dogs.

“Live­stock wor­ry­ing is an is­sue which is af­fect­ing farm­ers the length and breadth of Scot­land.

“It is un­de­ni­able that there has been a se­ri­ous in­crease in the num­ber of incidents re­ported.

“We know that a huge num­ber of in­stances go un­re­ported, so the real scale of the is­sue is likely to be even greater than what is in the public do­main.”

Lead­ing the way: South of Scot­land MSP Emma Harper, pic­tured here with her Border col­lie Maya, wants tougher laws to tackle live­stock wor­ry­ing

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