European lead ammunition ban proposed

Shotgun cartridges in a belt

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is warning that, despite Brexit, moves to restrict lead ammunition in the EU could still impact on shooting in the UK.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has announced proposals for a near-total ban on the sale and use of lead ammunition for airguns, shotguns and rifles. This follows the publication last week of EU regulations that will ban lead shot in and around wetlands from February 2023 onwards.

The latest proposals include:

·       A ban on the sale and use of lead gunshot (with a five-year transition period). As current Olympic rules specify the use of lead ammunition for certain disciplines, ECHA also considered an optional derogation for use of lead gunshot for sports shooting only under strict conditions, i.e. when releases to the environment are minimised.

·       a ban on the use of lead in bullets and other projectiles (small calibre: five-year; large calibre: 18-month transition periods). Derogations for continued use if releases to the environment are minimised, i.e. when sports shooting ranges are equipped with bullet traps.

Dr Matt Ellis, BASC’s head of science and chair of the European Federation of Hunting Association’s (FACE) ammunition working group, said: “BASC is working closely with FACE in reviewing the lead ammunition ban proposals and is in a good position to submit a detailed response.

“BASC supports sustainable shooting and we are now entering the second year of an industry-led voluntary five-year phase out of lead shot for all live quarry shooting in the UK.

“The change-over from lead to more sustainable types of ammunition is a complex matter, particularly as we are also encouraging a transition away from single-use plastics in shooting. Restrictions on lead ammunition production in the EU could have an impact on trade in the UK. Our voluntary transition is progressing and we will argue against it being interrupted.

“Only last week the EU forced through lead ammunition restrictions in and around wetlands that were so poorly drafted only 52% of MEPs supported them and they remain open to legal challenge before they take effect in 2023.

“The EU needs to learn from the mistakes they made when bringing in the wetlands restrictions by addressing the concerns of shooting stakeholders, by working to realistic timescales and ensuring any restrictions are clear for both shooters and regulators.”

ECHA’s scientific committees for risk assessment and socio-economic analysis will begin evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals, they are due to respond by mid-2022.

FACE and BASC have been compiling evidence ahead of a six-month public consultation, which is scheduled to launch on 24th March 2021.

For the ECHA proposals and next steps in the process please click here.