Monday, 22 March 2010

Ah well, there goes lead shot then

Defra are setting up a "Lead ammunition advisory group" which will be chaired by John Swift of BASC.

Defra will provide a secretariat (whatever that means), but the group will, it seems, consist of a whole lot of 'stakeholders' representing shooting, conservation, the gun trade, animal welfare, food health & hygiene, etc.

All of which, to me, sounds like a talking shop for a bunch of turkeys to discuss the Christmas decorations. The press release omits to mention whether Swift and/or others will be paid for serving on the group.

There's no doubt that Swift has a good grasp of the language required for this sort of thing. Here's a sample: "The group is tasked with identifying any significant threats as well as any perceived threats that are not significant. The group is to advise on options for managing any risks, knowledge gaps and communication issues. It is essential that the sub-groups are as inclusive as possible and balanced and fair in their investigations and findings. At the end of the first year a written progress report will be submitted to Defra and FSA. Our scope is limited to England but the devolved administrations will be kept informed and FSA has a UK-wide remit."

Most of the wildfowlers I know would respond to questions about lead shot rather more succinctly.

And they wouldn't stand any better chance of stopping this runaway train. Fact is, lead shot is on borrowed time. The EU wants to stamp it out. It's already banned in Denmark, Holland, Norway and parts of Belgium.

Swift says that "No political party has proposals to further limit the use of lead ammunition". Well they will have, once this advisory group shows them how to do it.

UPDATE: Shooters tend to cry "show us the evidence". Don't waste your breath. The CIC (the international organisation that supports the 'sustainable use of wildlife' - ie they're pro-shooting) has already raised the white flag on our behalf. Read their in-depth hatchet job on lead shot here.

Indeed, the CIC had a meeting in Rome in February with the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities and FACE-EU to discuss the end of lead shot "with the prime objective to protect human as well as environmental health and security". The 3 organisations are now enthusiastically drawing up what they call a "road map" to Non-Toxicsville.

FURTHER UPDATE: It seems the Countryside Alliance have no intention of being surrender-monkeys. They tell me the lead shot group has been formed with "undue haste", and say that Defra set the process in motion following pressure from the RSPB and WWT (I hate to say 'I told you so' but...). CA head honcho Simon Hart says: "the Alliance has now been invited on to the group and will robustly represent the shooting community. If incontrovertible and peer-reviewed UK evidence of relevant environmental and health problems were to emerge, we would of course all act responsibly in seeking the adoption of high quality non-toxic humane and affordable alternatives. Until such time the status quo should prevail."

MIKE YARDLEY COMMENTS: "There is a feeling, justified or not, that some of our representative organisations are rolling over too easily on the issue of lead. The potential banning or further restriction on the use of lead has huge implications for the sport... There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that lead shot harms human health and there is much debate concerning the animal impact too."


Vicky said...

It's a shame the evidence for lead shot environmental damage is patchy and that decisions may be based on poor science. I support the banning of lead over wetlands (regardless of the quarry being shot)as the risks of ingestion by waders and ducks is high. Over dry land though? How much lead leaches into soil from shot? Can it then contaminate food crops? Do lead fragments in meat pose a genuine health risk? I don't have an answer, but I know most lead contamination comes from heavy industry- will shooters become scapegoats?

BASC communications said...

BASC's policy on lead shot is very clear: "[b]BASC will continue to oppose any unwarranted restrictions on lead shot use. Restrictions must be science-based and proportionate. Debates about possible restrictions must fully involve shooting interests."[/b][i][/i]

An advisory group has been brought together because of increasing international scientific evidence on the potential effects of lead shot. BASC will be chairing the group which has been asked to examine that evidence and advise Defra. It includes the gun trade association, the GWCT and the countryside alliance. Shooting's interests are well-represented. BASC will oppose any changes to the use of lead ammunition which are not backed by solid science.

The group will look at all the evidence and particularly its application to the UK.