The Ministry for the Economy of Austria had previously pointed out the negative economic impact of the phase-out and concluded that lead ammunition does not pose enough of a threat to justify a complete ban. Austrian ministers also highlighted the poor performance of non-lead ammunition, the lack of alternatives for some calibres, and the fact that shooting only accounts for two per cent of total lead expelled into the environment.
This decision comes after Sir Barney White-Spunner’s recent resignation from the British Lead Ammunition Group (LAG) over “abuses of process”. Sir Barney spoke for the Countryside Alliance, saying, “We are pleased that Austria is asking the right questions and researching areas that the chairman of the LAG chose to ignore. There is no scientific evidence that lead ammunition has a negative effect on the environment in the UK outside wetlands, where there are already restrictions on its use. Austria’s decision backs up our move to leave the LAG.
“Although one must be cautious when making comparisons with other countries, the decision in Austria, backed up by the recent Norwegian partial-repeal of lead ammunition, the ban of tungsten in Denmark and the EU suspension of a study into lead toxicity due to lack of evidence, certainly suggests there is little proof for a ban on lead.”
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has also welcomed the news. “We are pleased that Austria has decided to call a halt to these plans,” said chairman Alan Jarrett. “Thorough consideration has obviously been given to the decision and the right outcome has been achieved.”