Horses on Thetford common must be removed and could face slaughterhouse

Alan Wilson on Barnham Cross Common with one of his horses.

Alan Wilson on Barnham Cross Common with one of his horses. - Credit: Archant

A horse owner is remaining defiant after being told his animals must leave Barnham Cross Common, in Thetford, or have them seized and possibly slaughtered.

Alan Wilson has kept horses on the common since 1971, but from Monday he faces legal action over the seven animals grazing on the land, which is a Site of Scientific Interest.

Thetford Town Council has said all horses and ponies illegally grazing on the common must be removed, with owners instructed to take them away or face them being seized by the Sheriff's Office.

Mr Wilson, 65, and other owners have been told to remove their animals, and if they do not the Sheriff's Office will be instructed to issue a 96 hour notice of seizure in accordance with the Control of Horses Act 2015.

If the horses and ponies are not claimed the Sheriff's Office will then be given instructions to sell or dispose of them.


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Mr Wilson says if his horses are seized he does not have the money to claim them back, meaning they may head to a slaughterhouse.

He argues that the site is common land, saying: 'I cannot afford to get my horses back if they are seized, so the worst case scenario is that they will be slaughtered.'

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The council has offered Mr Wilson assistance to have his horses taken to the Hillside Animal Sanctuary, at Frettenham, but he has yet to take up the offer.

The council says the unauthorised practice of grazing tethered horses on the common does not adhere to Defra codes, and Natural England funding to conserve and enhance the site could be in jeopardy if the council is unable to control illegal grazing.

There is also a safety issue over a lack of fencing.

Future fencing through Natural England funding could allow for licensed grazing.

Is the council right about the horses? Email anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk

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