The continued use of lead shot in the UK is now at a tipping-point.
This comes after the publication of the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) proposals to further restrict shooting on or over wetlands.
The inclusion of ‘peatland’ within the restriction and the ban on possessing lead shot when on a wetland are the two main proposals that if sanctioned will have far reaching effects on shooting practices in the UK.
The Countryside Alliance, alongside their European partners, have fought for scientific-led policy.
Indifferent to the Alliance’s efforts, ECHA have sent the proposals to the European Commission, instigating the next phase of the restriction process.
Over the next six months, further consultation will take place within several European departments and the World Trade Organisation. From there it will be brought before the EU REACH Committee for a debate and vote, before heading to the European Council and Parliament for ratification.
Although supportive of the principle of phasing out lead shot over wetlands, as the UK has already enshrined in law, the Countryside Alliance has identified several areas where ECHA’s proposals go beyond the available scientific evidence. Restricting the use of lead shot over ‘peatland’ will have serious consequences on traditional driven shooting and yet the reduction in risk to wildfowl ingesting lead shot in these habitats remains unproven.
Meanwhile, the Alliance say the ban on possessing lead shot on wetlands is completely unenforceable, leading to heightened confusion and difficulties with implementation.
Jack Knott, Countryside Alliance campaigns manager, said: ‘It is disappointing that our serious concerns regarding these proposals have so far fallen on deaf ears. However, our work will continue as the process moves through the various European bodies.
‘The future use of lead shot has reached a tipping point, with attacks coming from multiple angles. The Alliance will continue to fight against the passing of any unscientific restrictions that unnecessarily attack rural Britain.
‘This season, as ever, we urge the shooting community to comply with the current legislation or else help play a part in restricting lead shot across the board.
‘Poor compliance within the UK is used consistently as an argument for further restrictions. We ask that the shooting community abide by the legislation on the ground whilst we continue to work with our partner organisations in Europe.’