Game shooting is worth £1.6 billion to the British economy and supports nearly 70,000 full-time jobs, many in remote rural areas.
Recently, there has been talk of the EU banning the use of lead shot, this would most certainly have a detrimental effect on our rural economy and a disproportionate effect on shooting in the United Kingdom compared to other European countries. This is simply not acceptable.
As many readers know, I am passionate about rural life and rural pursuits and I'm sure you can imagine that the concept of Brussels interfering in this was simply not acceptable to me.
Due to the number of constituent queries I have received on this issue, I contacted ECHA directly to get a current state of play on this matter as quickly as possible.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has informed me it is not working on a restriction dossier on this issue, nor has the European Commission requested it to do so. However, it did carry out a number of studies on the cost-effectiveness of reducing emissions from hazardous substances.
Lead in ammunition was included as part of this package due to existing obligations under the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA.) ECHA also felt that this study would be a valuable fact-finding exercise.
Sweden has now notified its intention to prepare a restriction dossier concerning lead and lead compounds in articles intended for consumer use and the Commission understands that it is carrying out a preliminary investigation on the issue of lead shot in ammunition.
Any request for a Europe-wide restriction would be subject to a widespread consultation process.
As concerns the procedure for adopting a possible restriction, if ECHA (at the request of the Commission) or a Member State proposes restrictions, the restriction dossier is made public on ECHA's website and the interested parties are invited to submit comments or information on socio-economic aspects.
Following the receipt of the opinion by the ECHA's committees for risk and socio-economic assessment, the Commission adopts the final decision in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny.
Threats to lead shot are unwarranted. There is a distinct lack of proven scientific evidence to support any talk of a ban.
Until there is comprehensive and science-based research on possible threats to human health and the environment, I simply cannot support any efforts to ban a product which will inhibit the traditions of our past and affect our rural future.
We will certainly keep watching and act accordingly if anything further happens on this. As an elected representative and MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, I will continue to support and celebrate our rural heritage and way of life and I will continue to push for less interference from Brussels.