Voting shelved on
Europe-wide lead shot ban

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.

In a dramatic intervention by the Czech Republic the European Commission was forced to drop a vote by EU member state representatives on illogical and premature proposals that could have banned the use and possession of lead shot across huge swathes of Europe and the UK in two years’ time.

Five years ago the European Commission requested the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prepare proposals to restrict the use of lead shot over wetlands.

Mission creep by officials involved in the process resulted in proposals that went far beyond what was intended.

A ban on lead shot over wetlands makes sense, but not with an unworkable broad definition of wetlands was proposed that would cover anything from temporary puddles of water on clay grounds to every moorland in the UK. A ban on the use of lead shot within 100m of wetlands was also proposed and a vague ban on the possession of lead shot when shooting on or within 100m of wetlands.

After fierce lobbying on all sides of the lead ammunition debate agreement could not be reached in a Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) committee meeting. To force through a decision EC officials imposed a 21-day written vote for the member state representatives to take part in.

Victory for those that wanted a very wide-ranging ban looked certain until the Czech Republic intervened.

The Czech Republic, which has a strong shooting tradition, sensible gun laws and government support, used EU procedures to halt the online voting by requesting a reconvened face to face meeting of the REACH committee.

It is not certain when the next REACH committee meeting will be held and that might not be until 2021, which provides an opportunity for reflection and a rethink on poorly drafted proposals.

As the UK is currently in the transition phase of leaving the European Union, further EU restrictions on lead ammunition will impact us and we have limited lobbying power because our MEPs have already left their positions.

BASC continues to give staff and financial support to its European hunting partners to fight against these unworkable proposals. A key part of our support is that we chair the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) Ammunition Working Group.

BASC will continue to fight against disproportionate and unsubstantiated restrictions on the use of lead ammunition.

We have been leading this fight for 40 years.

If the EC proposal on restricting lead shot for hunting over wetlands is passed that could lead to further restrictions in the UK within two years and viable alternatives to lead ammunition are simply not yet available in sufficient quantities or calibres either here or in mainland Europe.

At the same time, together with eight other UK organisations, we are encouraging a smooth voluntary transition away from the use of lead shot for live quarry over the next five years.

These areas of work are not mutually exclusive.

In summary we are working to prevent bad laws from entering into force whilst encouraging a five year research and development period for viable alternatives to lead shot for live quarry shooting.

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