Maladministration ruling on EU lead restriction consultation

Conor O'Gorman

Conor O'Gorman

Conor O’Gorman has worked in a variety of conservation, policy and campaigning roles at BASC over the last 16 years. A zoology graduate with a PhD awarded for grey partridge research, he has over 25 years’ experience in conservation and land management.

The European Ombudsman has recognised a case of maladministration in relation to access to evidence during last year’s EU lead ammunition restriction consultation. BASC’s Dr Conor O’Gorman reviews what that means for us.

The European Ombudsman has recognised a case of maladministration by the European Food Safety Authority regarding its failure to provide key documents in a timely manner during last year’s public consultation on EU lead ammunition restriction proposals.

The ruling was made following a complaint by the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), supported by BASC, to the ombudsman that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) did not supply key evidence on lead concentrations in game meat.  

This unseen data had been used to justify some aspects of the lead ammunition restriction proposals and it took over 8 months for the evidence to be provided to FACE. This was long after the consultation closed and when carefully checked, several issues were identified, which because of the time-lag could not be flagged in the consultation.

Following this ruling FACE is calling for the public consultation to be re-opened to ensure the process is undertaken again to ensure fair play.

So, what does that mean for the future use of lead ammunition in the UK?

Firstly, this development is directly relevant to Northern Ireland because under the NI protocol decisions taken by the EU in relation to lead ammunition could take effect in NI. If last year’s public consultation under the EU REACH regulations were re-opened that could mean at least a year’s delay in the restriction process.

Secondly, with regard to lead ammunition restrictions for England, Wales and Scotland currently being consulted on under UK REACH regulations, this underlines the need for due process to be followed utilising existing peer-reviewed research. As FACE has successfully done in Europe, BASC will work to ensure UK REACH follows the correct process and that no stones are left unturned. Where errors are made or corners cuts, we will be the first to act.

BASC will continue to challenge proposed restrictions in the UK and EU where there are no viable alternatives to lead, where socio-economic factors mean a transition isn’t appropriate, and where lead can continue to be used in settings that present negligible or no risk.

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