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This special blog is written by Imogen Taylor, Senior Policy Officer to highlight the opportunity to have your say on the latest consultation on banning lead ammunition.
We have been talking about the long-overdue need for a ban on the use of lead ammunition for many years, and the UK REACH consultation looking at restricting lead ammunition since the process started in 2021. We are now at the final public consultation stage and we are asking for help in achieving a ban by having your say on why we don’t want lead poison polluting our environment.
Why should lead ammunition be banned?
We have written blogs on this here, here, here or here, where you can get a bit more information on lead but the gist is that it is toxic and a poison that is very harmful to people and nature. It has been banned from most of the products we use that used to contain it like petrol and paint, but lead ammunition is still in use, and from ammunition, lead gets into the environment contaminating habitats and the animals that are shot which can go on to be consumed by people, pets and wildlife.
In the UK it is estimated that 75,000 waterbirds, plus predatory and scavenging birds such as White-tailed Eagles, Red Kites and Marsh Harriers die each year as a direct result of lead poisoning and many more are impacted by the other effects including reduced fertility and weakened immune systems.
This is not a call for an end to shooting. Non-lead ammunition alternatives are available and are already being used many shooters. It is a call to stop putting toxic lead into the environment and food-chain.
What can you do?
In this final stage of the UK REACH consultation, the Health and Safety Executive is asking the public for comments on the draft socioeconomic opinion they published along with the consultation. We need people to voice their concerns, and experiences with the use of lead ammunition. The consultation is open until 10 December 2023, and we will submitting our own response including general comments on lead ammunition and the economics around restrictions.
The opinion document is thorough and detailed, but we believe some of the conclusions have led to proposals that are not strong enough. The proposed restrictions are
Proposal 1: Lead shot would be banned for target shooting and live quarry shooting with a derogation for nominated sports shooters and a 5-year transition period.
What we think: We welcome a ban being proposed on lead shot, but think 5-years is too long a transition period and it should be shortened to 18-months. This would align with a commitment by shooting organisations to the voluntarily phase out of lead ammunition by 2025.
Proposal 2: Lead bullets for target shooting would be banned with a derogation for certain sites which would be required to demonstrate appropriate risk management measures such as clean up. Lead bullets for live quarry shooting have no restriction proposed.
What we think: We are really disappointed that no restriction is proposed for live quarry shooting with lead bullets since there are risks to people and wildlife. The value this ban would have for secondary poisoning of birds of prey has not been recognised.
Proposal 3: Lead airgun pellets – no restriction proposed
What we think: There is more limited information relating to airgun pellets, but we are concerned that no restriction is proposed, as airgun pellets are another source of lead in our environment and alternatives are available.
How to respond
To submit a response to the consultation, visit the website here by 10 December 2023 and at the bottom of the page is a link to the online survey.
Please feel free to answer the questions they have provided depending on your experience with lead ammunition, but if you just want to submit general comments, the last section provides a space for this.
The first page will ask for your details and then clicking continue will take you to the questions.
There is no expectation to answer all or any of the specific questions they ask, but two questions you may want to respond to are:
If you continue through, you will come to a page for general comments.
Airgun pellets - We are concerned that there is no restriction proposal for lead airgun pellets when it is still a pathway for lead getting into the environment
This is our chance to get a comprehensive ban on lead ammunition and we need to make our voices heard and stop the toll this poison is taking on our wildlife! Thank you for taking action.
I have experienced unpleasant symptoms after eating game with lead pellets inside. When it is cooked, the lead must leach into the meat. So I have stopped buying it. Game is a healthy meat so if sales drop then some of it could go to waste not to mention the effects on health of those who still buy and eat it.
I'd suggest one of the additional points that could be made is that lead is found in game sold in supermarkets ie people are eating food contaminated with lead. If lead were banned outright, there would be public health benefits
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