Friday, 29 May 2015

Spent lead ammunition in the environment

As a parliamentary candidate some time ago I was put on the mailing list of the Countryside Alliance. Because of mailing-list inertia presumably, I have not been taken off. I generally give their newsletters, dominated by shooting and field-sports interests with the occasional mention of more general rural concern, no more than a once-over. This recent item worried me, however:

Our Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner explains why he has resigned from the Lead Ammunition Group on behalf of shooting interests.

Explaining resignation from the Lead Ammunition Group

Last week I had cause to resign from the Lead Ammunition Group (LAG). I did not take this action lightly but did so in protest at abuses of process and evidence that I feel render the group's work so flawed it can never reach any scientific conclusions.

The LAG was set up under the Labour Government in 2010 at the behest of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the RSPB, on the back of scientific evidence from America. The purpose of the group was to advise Defra on any risks to wildlife, human health and livestock from the use of lead ammunition, and how to mitigate them. It has not yet produced a report. As Executive Chairman of the Countryside Alliance I have served on the LAG since 2013, representing the shooting community.

The Chairman, John Swift, circulated a draft Lead Ammunition Group Report in April which the majority of the group had no part in drafting. That document is very far from a reflection of the LAG_s discussions and draws incorrect conclusions from that evidence which the LAG has agreed. More seriously, many of those conclusions are based on evidence that the LAG has simply not agreed and were presented to the rest of the group as a fait accompli.

I submitted a total of 172 detailed comments of evidence and process on the Chairman's draft report, highlighting the number of flaws I believe to be present. With this and the overall negativity of the report in mind I cannot continue to serve as the representative of the shooting community on the LAG. I have profound disagreement with the way the process has been conducted.

Be assured, however, that neither I nor the Countryside Alliance will be walking away from this issue. Given the failure of the LAG process we will be consulting with the shooting community, other representative shooting groups and public bodies as to the best way to proceed.

You can read my letter of resignation in full here ( . Read Shooting Times' report here ( .

Barney White-Spunner
Executive Chairman

I do not have the knowledge or experience to judge the quality of the evidence on either side. However, the alleged action seems of a piece with government's method of dealing with ad hoc advisory bodies in other areas. The LAG should have been encouraged to produce a timely report which reflects their majority view. If that conflicts with government policy, or government advisors find the evidence faulty, then these things can be debated in the open.

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