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Country News - 2003

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Parliament acts against roadside killer

Thursday 17 July 2003

Yorkshire's roadsides are now demonstrating the uncontrolled growth of the killer weed ragwort whose deadly yellow flowers are in full bloom.

But the unexpectedly rapid progress through parliament of Ryedale MP John Greenway's ragwort control bill could mean action will be taken in time to prevent an even greater threat next summer, says the Country Land & Business Association.

"We are delighted that a Yorkshire private members bill has such widespread support that it has now quickly reached the stage where it could become law by next spring," said the CLA's regional director, Dorothy Fairburn.

We also support the Government's stated hope that landowners and occupiers will act to clear ragwort before enforcement proceedings become necessary.

However, the region's highway authorities must also take action in line with the positive steps taken by many farmers and those who keep horses and ponies, otherwise the weed will seed from the roadsides back into the fields. Although ragwort will not be completely eradicated, this new bill will make effective enforcement more likely."

A draft code of practice will be published in the next few weeks for consultation with the CLA and other organisations.

The CLA has led a four-year campaign to convince Government and local authorities that effective action is needed. Ragwort is a poisonous threat to livestock and horses: John Greenway says that 500 horses died from it last year and the number will double this year.

Yorkshire's lead on the need for tougher laws will continue: it is expected that Baroness Masham will promote the bill in the House of Lords.


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