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Bill calling for two-year phasing out of all lead shot defeated

Defra announced it "unnecessary"

Shotgun pellets

Shotgun pellets

A proposed amendment to an Environment Bill calling for a two-year phase out of all lead shot has been voted out by Defra.

The amendment was led by Labour MP Fleur Anderson but Defra minister Rebecca Pow said that it was unnecessary, due to positive action by shooting organisations to move away from lead shot in the forthcoming five years. 

The minister said: “The new clause falls short of what shooting organisations are calling for. Organisations such as BASC, the Moorland Association and various other countryside organisations—I engaged with a lot of them as a back bencher—are calling for an end within five years to both lead and single-use plastics. They are talking about it seriously.”

“It is critical government takes the right level of action through measures that are underpinned by evidence, as always, and informed by further conversations with stakeholders. I am not sure that the honourable lady’s proposal necessarily does that.”

Reactions from fieldsports bodies

Liam Bell NGO Chairman commented ‘DEFRA were correct to dismiss the amendment to phase out lead shot over the next two years, when the shooting organisations are already committed to the voluntary five year phasing out of both lead shot and single use plastics which was announced last spring. Far better that change is led by stake holders, and that it is smooth and supported than to have it foisted upon us by government before the alternatives have had time to be tried, tested and developed further, and users to be confidence in their use.’ He added that ‘It is refreshing that (in this instance ) DEFRA are listening and consulting with users groups and stakeholders. Long may it continue.’

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “We welcome the government’s continued support and backing of the five-year transition away from lead shot for game shooting. It is essential that the shooting community is given the time and space to move over to non-lead shot.

“Disrupting the voluntary transition by enforcing unnecessary legislation would disrupt the market, community, and all the indirect benefits shooting brings to the economy and the environment.

It was in February 2020 that a group of fieldsports and rural bodies, including BASC, Countryside Alliance, GWCT, NGO and The Moorland Association, called for a move away from lead ammunition within five years. At the time a spokesperson said:  “The shooting community must maintain its place at the forefront of conservation and environmental protection. Continued development of non-lead shot and recyclable and bio-degradable plastics means the time is right for a complete transition.

“The five-year proposal allows for a smooth transition giving both the shooting community and the industry time to adapt.”