AN ANIMAL charity has launched an investigation into concerns for the welfare of a group of horses being kept in a field near Helensburgh.

The Scottish SPCA is carrying out a probe after people living in the Shandon area raised worries about five animals on an area of land on the Blairvadach estate, near a former Argyll and Bute Council office.

The condition of the horses is being monitored by both the SSPCA and environmental health officials from the council.

But one resident, who asked not to be identified, said the problem with so-called “fly grazing” had been going on for some time ­– and said the authorities had not acted quickly enough to ensure the animals’ welfare.

They claimed: “Police are called out a few times a week as the horses have escaped, and one was recently found on the main road.

“We are desperately concerned for the horses’ welfare. We are desperate for something to happen.”

Our source told us that they remain hopeful of a positive outcome, but said they are disappointed at the slow response so far, adding: “Everybody wants to know why the council hasn’t done anything about this, and why the Scottish SPCA haven’t taken action.”

Another resident, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “It has been going on for a while now. There have been several visits from the Scottish SPCA, but all of the authorities seem to be sitting on their hands.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish SPCA told the Advertiser the concerns were being taken “very seriously”, and said the matter was the subject of an ongoing investigation.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: “The horses at Blairvadach were placed there by their owner this year without the council’s permission.

“The owner has refused to remove the horses and the council raised court proceedings in Dumbarton Sheriff Court to require the owner of the horses to remove them from Blairvadach.

“The owner of the horses has not yet complied with court orders to remove the horses from Blairvadach and we are continuing to utilise the court process, and the orders obtained, to bring this matter to a resolution.

“While we are not in a position to provide detailed information, we are planning next steps and will be liaising with the police.

“Our environmental health team continues to monitor the horses on site, taking a partnership approach with the Scottish SPCA.”

A spokesperson for Rhu and Shandon Community Council said: “We have been aware for some time of local concern over the care and welfare of horses on the Blairvadach estate.

“We have brought this to the attention of the relevant authorities and are saddened that the situation continues and that a solution to the problem has not yet been identified.”