The RSPB and WWT have today published an open letter to the joint signatories of a statement by shooting organisations in 2020 which called for a five-year transition away from lead ammunition for game shooting.
The RSPB and WWT are right to acknowledge in their letter the considerable efforts being made by shooting organisations to raise awareness of the transition away from lead ammunition. However, their failure to acknowledge the substantial challenges involved in moving away from lead shot is disappointing.
Since the publication of the joint statement in February 2020 by shooting organisations, significant progress has been made towards the transition despite the clear and obvious difficulties created for cartridge manufacturers and others by the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. Research and development continue at pace, but there should be no under-estimation of the seriousness of issues affecting global supply chains. The availability of raw materials, components, tools and machining continues to be affected in the aftermath of the pandemic, increased demand in the USA and an increased demand in Europe ahead of the imminent “wetlands ban” in February 2023.
Despite the difficulties, the shooting organisations remain wholly committed to the five-year voluntary transition. The UK Government, through UK REACH, is currently investigating the requirement for legal restrictions on the use of lead ammunition. A public consultation is expected to be launched this month leading to recommendations on the transition. The priority for BGA is to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of non-lead ammunition to secure a supply of lead-free game required to support the rapidly growing market for British game. The shooting community is calling for UK REACH to sit down with manufacturers and assemblers to plan a routemap for adequate supplies of sustainable ammunition. RSPB and WWT support for this would be welcome.