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Lead ban consultation now has rifle ammo in its sights

Shooting organisations have reacted with fury as HSE seeks to reduce the transition period and include rifle ammunition for live quarry.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has closed its 60-day public consultation on the socioeconomic effects of a ban on lead ammunition. The consultation includes questions on the banning of lead rifle ammunition and moots a reduced transition period away from lead shot. 

Following the consultation on the banning of lead ammunition in 2022, the proposed restrictions were: none for lead airgun pellets, a proposed ban within five years for lead shot for live quarry and target shooting, and no restriction for rifle ammunition for live quarry. The initial consultation garnered 2,759 responses. 

The latest public consultation, which ended at midnight on 10 December, focused on reducing the transition period away from lead shot and the potential inclusion of lead rifle ammunition for live quarry in the ban. 

Lead shot was banned for shooting ducks and other wetland birds by the Labour government in 1999. 

The shooting community has been campaigning for a voluntary transition away from lead shot and single-use plastics in shotgun ammunition for live-quarry shooting over a five-year period. However, the HSE is considering reducing this period to as little as two years. 

Shooting organisations have urged the HSE to take into account the world shortage of components due to the war in Ukraine. This most recent consultation contained only two questions and a space for general comments. The lack of breadth of the questions has been criticised by stakeholders from both sides of the debate. 

Mark Avery, former head of conservation for the RSPB, made his strident response to the consultation public. “Your question fails to meet the standards for a proper public consultation,” he asserted. “You have not explained what this is all about, you have not explained ‘WTP’, ‘secondary poisoning’ or ‘monetised’ and you are therefore excluding many potential respondents in a public consultation.” 

Terry Behan, BASC director for eastern region, told Shooting Times: “We were disappointed at the lack of questions on the impact of the proposed restriction on shooting. BASC has put in an extensive response* underlining the need for self-regulation.” 

The GWCT’s Mike Swan said: “I hope lots of people have expressed their view, and the HSE gets a loud and clear message that there is no need to legislate against lead shot when we are well on the way voluntarily.”