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Ragwort on neighbouring land

For horse owners and landowners, it can be extremely frustrating when you spend hours of time and money keeping your pastures and forage production land clear of ragwort, but are being affected due to the spread of ragwort from neighbouring land.

  • Last reviewed: 1st July 2022
Two Grazing Horses Two Grazing Horses

Remove ragwort from fields used for grazing

If land you own has ragwort, and it’s either at risk of spreading to high-risk land or your land is occupied by horses, you must act now to remove the ragwort.

The BHS Welfare team has a network of Welfare Advisers and Field Officers who will aim to resolve any concerns by working with the horse owner/keeper or landowner in an advisory capacity.

If you’re concerned about horses grazing in fields with ragwort, contact the team on:

02476 840517 or welfare@bhs.org.uk.

High risk land areas

If ragwort is growing within 50 metres of land used by horses or livestock take action immediately.

Take immediate action to remove the weed from this area and control its spread must be taken by the landowner.

It’s not an offence for ragwort to grow in certain areas, but spread of ragwort onto high-risk land is an offence.

The landowner’s permission must always be obtained before going onto other land or removing ragwort (or any other plant) from it.

Private owned land or private road

England

Defra's Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort has full details of the actions that complainants should take. Refer to points 25 and 26 of the Code.

When a potential problem is identified, the landowner/occupier should be contacted first. If the landowner/occupier fails to take any action to prevent the spread of ragwort or remove it where necessary, Natural England should then be notified.

Download a Weed 2 Complaint form and guidance

Fully completed Weed 2 Complaint forms need to be returned to: Natural England Enquiries Team, Technical Services Natural England, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester, WR5 2NR

Natural England will take enforcement action under the Weeds Act 1959 where ragwort poses a high risk to horses/livestock or the production of conserved forage.

Scotland

The Scottish Government Guidance on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort has full details of the actions that complainants should take.

When a potential problem is identified, the landowner/occupier should be contacted first. If the landowner/occupier fails to take any action to prevent the spread of ragwort or remove it where necessary, Scottish Government, Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) can be contacted.

The SGRPID will take enforcement action under the Weeds Act 1959 where ragwort poses a high risk to horses/livestock or the production of conserved forage.

Wales

The Welsh Government's Code of Practice to Prevent and Control the Spread of Ragwort has full details of the actions that complainants should take.

When a potential problem is identified, the landowner/occupier should be contacted first. For instances where ragwort issues cannot be resolved contact the Natural Environment and Agriculture Team of the Welsh Government on 0300 0622306 or submit an official complaint form directly to the Rural Inspectorate Wales - see code of practice for details (click on above link).

The Rural Inspectorate Wales may take enforcement action under the Weeds Act 1959 where ragwort poses a high risk to horses/livestock or the production of conserved forage.

Other land areas

Parish, community or council-owned land

The relevant parish, town or community council are responsible.

Find your Local Authority’s details:

Public road

The relevant local Highway Authority is responsible.

Find your local authority’s details:

Motorways or trunk roads

At no point should you ever try to enter motorway verges to check for ragwort.

England

Contact Highways England on 0300 123 5000 or visit their website  highwaysengland.co.uk for further information.

Scotland

Contact Transport Scotland on 0141 2727100 or visit their website  transport.gov.scot for further information.

Wales

Contact The North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agent on 01286 685186 or visit their website for further information.

Contact The South Wales Trunk Road Agent on 0300 1231213 or visit their website for further information.

National railway

At no point should you ever try to enter railway lines to check for ragwort.

Contact Network Rail on 03457 114141 or visit their website networkrail.co.uk for further information.

Canal and Rivers
Ministry of Defence Land
Common Land

Contact the local council or private landowner.

Forestry Land

England

The Forestry Commission will be responsible. Visit their website for further information.

Scotland 

Forest and Land Scotland will be responsible. Visit their website for further information.

Wales

Natural Resources Wales will be responsible. Visit their website for further information.

Medium risk land areas

If the ragwort is growing within 50-100 metres of land used by horses/livestock or land used for forage production, then this land is classified as medium risk.

A high risk is posed to animals grazing within 50 metres of where ragwort is growing, but it's more effective if ragwort is controlled up to 100 metres from any eligible land at risk to help prevent its spread.

Discuss the risk with the landowners/occupiers. They should continue to monitor the situation and put controls in place if necessary.

Low risk land areas

If the ragwort is growing over 100 metres of land used by horses/livestock or land used for forage production, then this land is classified as low risk.

Consider making the landowners/occupiers aware if spread increases. It would be in their interests to take action as part of a contingency plan if necessary.

Identifying Ragwort

It is vital that horse owners know how to identify ragwort to reduce the risk of poisoning and help stop the vicious cycle of it growing on your pasture.

Learn more
BHS STOCK NOV2016 1072