This week, the Scottish government has announced proposals to introduce new licensing regulations in Scotland covering a range of animal-related activities when carried on in the course of a business.
The consultation also seeks views on proposals to replace existing legislation covering animal boarding (including day care) and riding establishments, replacing it with updated licensing requirements. The legislation they propose to replace is as follows:
• Riding Establishments Act 1964,
• Riding Establishments Act 1970,
• Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.
The rationale for the proposals set out in the document are to enhance and protect animal welfare through the introduction of a statutory licensing scheme which will set minimum standards that all licence holders must comply with.
Licensing will ensure that individuals offering such services are:
• subject to appropriate checks before being granted a licence,
• subject to periodic inspection by local authorities,
• suitably experienced and/or qualified to deliver the services offered,
• operating to defined statutory standards,
• accountable when licence conditions are breached or animal welfare is
• listed on a publicly available register (held and maintained by the
licensing body) to reassure the public that persons offering a particular
service are properly licensed.
It is anticipated that any new licensing requirements would be introduced through the same framework as used in the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (legislation.gov.uk) for which the framework currently requires persons engaging in the covered activities to be licensed.
Part 4 of the Licensing of activities involving animals Consultation document includes proposals to introduce the licensing of livery services in Scotland. Currently across the UK, the provision of livery services is unregulated, with no licence or equine qualifications required to own or run a livery business. The absence of regulation and minimum standards to protect animal welfare and ensure accountability is a matter of concern. While some general welfare protection for equines is provided under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, these are limited in terms of their scope.
The standard of livery services varies considerably. Many providers of livery services operate to high standards and strive to provide a high level of service to clients. However, this is not always the case and, due to the lack of targeted regulation and accountability, complaints and concerns relating to poor service, sub-standard equine care and poor facilities are not uncommon. This results in a high number of equine welfare concerns associated with premises offering livery services.
The Scottish Government, equine stakeholders and key animal welfare organisations consider that focused statutory safeguards are required to ensure that livery services are delivered to agreed minimum standards to better protect equine welfare and the users of such services. Licensing rules regarding livery services will, if implemented, set out clear animal welfare standards that licence holders would need to comply with. Whilst not an exhaustive list it is believed that some of the key benefits of statutory licensing include improved living conditions, better quality of care, enhanced socialisation and exercise opportunities, improved safety and greater accountability.
In summary, statutory licensing of livery services in Scotland would help ensure that horses are kept in safe and appropriate conditions, receive the care they need to maintain their health and well-being, and have opportunities to express natural behaviours and socialize with other horses. This would help promote the welfare of horses and provide assurance to owners that their animals are being cared for appropriately.
Consultation is an essential part of the policy making process. It gives the opportunity to have your say on what authorities do or propose to do and it gives valuable insight, perspective, and evidence that in turn informs and shapes the outcomes.
Anyone can reply to the consultation. The Scottish Government particularly encourages responses from individuals and businesses already offering the services covered by this consultation and from representative member bodies, animal welfare organisations, local authorities and veterinary professionals.
You can read the consultation in full, and give your views here: Licensing of activities involving animals – Scottish Government – Citizen Space (consult.gov.scot)
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