No official response has been made to the LAG report, but the Independent has quoted a source inside DEFRA as saying there are no plans to ban lead shot in the UK.
The source said: “There’s no appetite from Liz [Truss] and George [Eustice] to do anything like that. This review was one of the last acts of the Labour government and was hijacked by anti-lead ammunition groups.
“We’re struggling to find time to work out when we tell the world what we’re going to do, which is nothing. It will get parked somewhere. No action will be taken.”
The official text of the LAG’s final report to the government has yet to be revealed but is understood to be widely critical of the use of lead shot in the UK. A letter from LAG chairman John Swift to the secretary of state, sent in June 2015, said: “Lead is a highly toxic hazard and presents risk at all levels of exposure. It is especially dangerous as a neurotoxin for both young people and for wild animals.
“If it is decided that the risks to wildlife and human health need to be better addressed, 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.”
Swift’s conclusion was followed by a public break-down of the LAG group, with the pro-shooting representatives walking out in disgust at the process and going on to submit their own alternative report to DEFRA.
At the time, then Countryside Alliance chairman Barney White-Spunner – who had represented shooters on the group – said: “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.
“The LAG was intended to put a consensus view to DEFRA. It has manifestly failed to do that. I do not think DEFRA can accept a report that is so procedurally flawed and from a group of which the majority of members have resigned.”
DEFRA’s response was initially expected in December 2015, but now is unlikely to appear until at least April.