A letter from the chairman of the Lead Ammunition Group to DEFRA secretary of state Liz Truss has confirmed the anti-lead conclusion of the group’s final report – and provoked heavy criticism from shooting organisations and individuals alike.
John Swift’s letter, which is dated 3 June 2015 but was only released recently, reveals the group’s final report advises DEFRA on the potential harmful impact of lead ammunition use to wildlife and to humans. The release of the letter on the LAG’s official website has incited condemnation from the UK’s top pro shooting organisations, with the Countryside Alliance calling the LAG “a lobby group bent on a complete ban of lead ammunition”.
The letter makes the content of the report explicitly clear, stating: “Lead is a highly toxic hazard and presents risk at all levels of exposure”. The report apparently concludes that if the “political judgment” is that lead must be regulated, “there is no convincing evidence, yet available, that anything other than an eventual phase out of lead ammunition and phase in of the non-toxic ammunition alternatives will do it.”
Though strong in its assertion of the harmfulness of lead shot, the letter does briefly present the counter-argument: “One camp disagrees with the possibility of phasing out lead ammunition and believes that the risks from lead ammunition are not sufficiently proven, or large enough, to justify further restrictions”.
The letter does also address the controversial and “regrettable” resignations of some members of the group. The release of the letter has provoked criticism from the UK’s shooting organisations.
Alan Jarrett, chairman of BASC, called the letter “a further confirmation of the failures in process which resulted in the mass resignation of many members of the LAG before the production of the report by those who remained.”
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, has also spoken out, saying: “Their knowledge that DEFRA’s planned peer review process will pick apart and undermine their report seems to have resulted in a decision to cause as much destruction as possible in the meantime.”
The official Lead Ammunition Group report has not yet been made public and awaits peer review. John Swift’s full letter to Liz Truss can be read at www.leadammunitiongroup.org.uk.