The European government on 26 November pushed through a ban on lead shot over wetlands, leaving pro-shooting groups in Brussels and Strasbourg aghast. Shooters in North European countries, especially Scandinavia, point out that most rural land is wetland, by the European definition.
But on 30 November, the EU Committee, a body within the Swedish parliament that overseas negotiations with the European Council, told Sweden’s government it must vote against the ban, even if it approves of it. Most of Sweden contains wetlands.
The European Commission calls wetlands ‘those areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated habitats’. It adds: ‘They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by shallow water,’ including, ‘areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres’.
Swedish competition shooter Pia Clerté expressed her concerns about the ban to Fieldsports News earlier this year.
The European Parliament voted for the measure allowing the European Commission to introduce the new regulations by the end of 2020. If the commission meets this deadline, the UK may be forced to adopt the ban by the end of 2022, which will affect shooting over peatland.
In England, the use of lead shot is banned for the shooting of wildfowl. In Scotland, lead shot is banned over water.
The European Chemicals Agency, which lobbied for the ban, is now pushing for restrictions on the use of all lead ammunition and the use of lead in fishing weights.
Anti lead shot campaigners point to reports which show that lead shot kills a million waterbirds each year.