Government launches review into restriction of lead shot

Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers are being encouraged to respond to government plans to phase out lead ammunition to help protect wildlife.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a call for evidence into the impact of lead ammunition on the environment, wildlife and people.

The eight-week call for evidence covers England, Wales and Scotland.

See also: Defra to phase out lead shot to protect wildlife

It is the first part of a series of reviews and public consultations to be held over the next 18 months under the UK government’s new post-Brexit chemical regulations, known as “UK Reach”.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) continues to regulate the access of chemicals to the Northern Ireland market.

The HSE is expected to publish its final restriction dossier on the plans in April 2022. At that stage, it will open a consultation on any planned restrictions.

Nine UK shooting and countryside organisations have called for a transition to non-toxic shot for game shooting and recommended a five-year period to allow cartridge manufacturers to change.

The organisations, which include the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Country Land and Business Association and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, say it will benefit wildlife and the environment, while also safeguarding the growing market for healthy game meat.


But they say farmers need support within the shooting community to help the transition to steel, bismuth and tungsten-based shots that are increasingly available due to advances in technology.

BASC says it is imperative that any proposals to restrict lead ammunition must consider the complex mix of socio-economics, technical factors and attitudes. 

Dan Reynolds, BASC director of England, said: “A key principle we must not lose sight of is that further legal restrictions must not be imposed until effective and affordable types of sustainable ammunition are available in sufficient volumes to meet demand.”

Research by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust shows that between 50,000 and 100,000 wildfowl die in the UK each year as a result of ingesting lead from ammunition.

The HSE call for evidence runs until 22 October.