The Austrian government is apparently abandoning research into the phasing-out of lead ammunition.
The Austrian Ministry for the Economy has argued that a ban would have a considerable economic impact and that the threat from lead shot does not justify such a move.
Other issues outlined by Austrian ministers included the poor performance of non-lead ammunition, the lack of alternative ammunition for some calibres of gun and the fact that shot accounts for just two per cent of the total lead dispersed into the environment.
This decision comes as the UK government’s Lead Ammunition Group (LAG) lies in tatters, following the resignation from the body of Countryside Alliance executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner and other members of the shooting industry over abuses of process.
The LAG was set up under the Labour Government in 2010 to advise the Department for Envirnoment, Food and Rural Affairs on the perceived or potential risks to wildlife, human health and livestock from the use of lead ammunition, and how to mitigate them. The report, which has since been produced by the chairman, was not representative of the evidence examined by the group and called for a phasing out of lead ammunition.
Sir Barney said: “We are pleased that Austria is asking the right questions and researching areas that the chairman of the LAG chose to ignore. There is no scientific evidence that lead ammunition has a negative effect on the environment in the UK outside wetlands, where there are already restrictions on its use. Austria’s decision backs-up our move to leave the LAG.
“Although one must be cautious when making comparisons with other countries, the decision in Austria, backed up by the recent Norwegian partial-repeal of lead ammunition, the ban of Tungsten in Denmark and the EU suspension of a study into lead toxicity due to lack of evidence, certainly suggests there is little proof for a ban on lead.”
BASC has also welcomed the news. Chairman Alan Jarrett said: “We are pleased that Austria has decided to call a halt to these plans. Thorough consideration has obviously been given to the decision and the right outcome has been achieved.”