EU member state vote on lead ammunition ban suspended

It appears that a vote of EU member states on whether or not to accept a European Commission proposal to ban lead ammunition in and around wetlands has been suspended.

It is understood that the vote, which was due to be completed before Wednesday of this week, July 15, was apparently suspended because of an objection that was lodged by one member state, believed to be the Czech Republic.

The vote had been difficult to call, with no clear indication whether the necessary quota of member states would back the ban. However, it appears that Germany, which appeared undecided up to this point, is now willing to vote in favour of the ban, if its implementation is delayed to a later date.

The commission decided to put the draft regulation to a vote on June 23 last, giving member states until July 15 to return their decision (positive, negative or abstention).

According to Dan Curley, chairperson of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), the former Irish government indicated an intention to vote no, and there is no indication that this stance has changed. However, Curley highlighted that there is “no knowing” how other member states would vote.

The NARGC obtained legal advice on this matter, which led to the body highlighting a number of concerns.

The first of these concerns is the scope of the restrictions, which the NARGC argues is too broad. The definition of wetland being used for the purpose of the regulation includes, apparently “areas of march, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial; permanent or temporary; with water that is static or flowing; fresh, brackish or salt; including area of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed 6m”.

The second area of concern the NARGC has highlighted is that the regulation, in its present wording, operates on a “presumption of guilt”, in that hunters and gun users would have to prove that they were not shooting in and around a wetland.