Restrictions on lead ammunition production in the EU could have an impact on UK trade and the voluntary transition away from lead shot for live quarry shooting.
BASC response to UK REACH lead ammunition consultation
In a dossier published on 6 May this year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – under UK REACH – proposed a complete ban on outdoor recreational uses of all forms of lead ammunition in England, Scotland and Wales, with limited derogations. The consultation on the proposals closes on 6 November 2022.
BASC has prepared a comprehensive response, including:
- Online submission to the UK REACH consultation
- BASC review of the UK REACH Annex XV restriction dossier on lead ammunition, supported by:
- BASC technical report: Accuracy and penetration testing of lead-free ammunition in .243 calibre
- BASC technical report: Accuracy and penetration testing of lead-free ammunition in .22lr rimfire calibre
- BASC technical report: Accuracy and muzzle energy testing of lead-free airgun ammunition in .177 and .22
- BASC technical report: Weight retention of lead airgun pellets.
Live quarry shooting
There is clear evidence of risk of primary poisoning of birds from lead shot and of the human health risk from exposure to lead in game meat.
Having assessed the evidence, we concluded that restrictions on the sale and use of both lead shot and expanding lead rifle ammunition for live quarry shooting would be effective at eliminating those proven risks.
The transition periods for regulation of lead shot and expanding rifle ammunition must be agreed in close consultation with the shooting sector and take account of technical and global supply chain issues.
To support our position, we have submitted a series of technical reports. These demonstrate the need for raising the threshold of ‘small calibres’ within the UK REACH dossier to include any calibre below 6.5mm. This would provide a longer transition period for calibres such as .243.
For rimfire ammunition, we are asking that restrictions are not implemented until suitable lead-free alternatives can be guaranteed at scale.
We maintain our view that airgun ammunition should not be restricted as the risk to human health can be managed through existing sector guidance on game meat handling. We have also prepared a technical report demonstrating the inherent unsuitability of existing lead-free airgun ammunition for live quarry shooting.
BASC remains committed to the voluntary transition away from lead shot and single use plastics for shotguns used in live quarry shooting. As such, we believe that further regulation is not required in this area.
Clay pigeon and target shooting
The evidence presented by the HSE on secondary exposure to birds, plus lead exposure pathways to livestock and other animals, soil, soil organisms, plants, and surface waters, is not conclusive.
We believe that the HSE has failed to address uncertainty in the evidence as is required by regulatory guidance. As a result, restrictions based on these risks are unnecessary and disproportionate.
BASC believes that lead shot could continue to be used for clay pigeon / target shooting at venues where risks of primary exposure to birds is managed. We also advocate that lead rifle ammunition (non-expanding) can continue to be used on ranges. We believe that current legal and regulatory frameworks are effective and further regulation risks the unnecessary ‘gold plating’ of environmental directives.
In our detailed response, BASC is also making the following requests of the HSE:
- Re-assess the use and risk of lead ammunition in the UK context.
- Uphold the transparency requirements of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for Annex XV restriction dossier preparation.
- Reassess their estimate of lead shotgun ammunition use.
- Reassess their estimate of rifle ammunition use.
- Review their assessment of environmental and human health impacts and benefits of restrictions.
- Ensure accurate costs are applied during the forthcoming socio-economic impact assessment.
- Thoroughly explore the uncertainty in the evidence in relation to secondary poisoning of birds from lead ammunition.
- Thoroughly explore the uncertainty in the evidence in relation to impacts on ‘other’ animals from lead ammunition.
- Thoroughly explore the uncertainty in the evidence in relation to impacts on soil, soil organisms and vegetation from lead ammunition.
- Exclude surface and ground waters from its proposals.
- Move the boundary for defining ‘large calibre’ centrefire ammunition to ≥6.5mm.
- Ensure that any restriction and transition period for rimfire ammunition is reviewed before implementation.
- Drop proposals for restricting the use of lead airgun ammunition.
- Consider providing extended transition periods for small gauge shotgun calibres of 28 bore and smaller.
- Revise restriction proposals, ensuring that they are proportionate to the evidenced risk, make best use of existing legal and regulatory frameworks and avoid ‘gold plating’ existing environmental directives.
- Implement a buy-back scheme to: a. Fairly compensate material loss resulting from restrictions; b. Incentivise the transition to lead free alternatives; c. Ensure that the restrictions do not create a ‘false’ or ‘early’ cliff- edge for sales of lead products that undermines manufacturers’ ability to invest in development and production of lead-free alternatives.
The HSE and Environment Agency (EA) will review the consultation responses prior to preparing a final restriction report. This report, expected to be published in early summer 2023, will be a set of recommendations to Defra. This will provide the basis for legislation.
It is likely that a 60-day consultation will launch in February 2023 as part of the HSE’s Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of proposals.
BASC will continue to engage with the HSE and EA as part of the UK REACH process.