On Thursday 23rd June the UK voted to leave the European Union. This move is bound to affect how the Countryside Alliance is working for the interests of the British countryside, as many of our campaigns have at least a European element. Here we have outlined four key areas of our work that will be affected as the UK moves to leave the EU.
Firearms Directive – The UK has some of the most stringent and respected firearms laws in the world, in many cases exceeding the requirements of the European Firearms Directive. The Countryside Alliance will continue to work on the changes currently proposed to the Firearms Directive, as this process will certainly be concluded within the next two years and are likely to be implemented in UK law. As always our position will remain that any further legislation from Europe needs to include a full impact assessment and must not negatively affect legal UK shooters. Brexit will have no impact on our lobbying of the Government through the Policing and Crime Bill to improve our domestic firearms legislation, irrespective of the proposed European changes.
Birds and Habitats Directives – The Nature Directives are fully transposed into UK legislation through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and UK regulations. The Countryside Alliance will argue for the safe-guarding, continuation and improvement of Natura 2000 sites, such as SPAs and SACs, which alongside SSSIs are key to reversing the decline of wildlife and habitats in the UK. The UK is signatory to plenty of international agreements, these will be continued – species are not contained by borders and neither should our conservation work. At this time of uncertainty for the conservation framework in the UK, the Alliance will continue to promote the considerable conservation work undertaken and funded by the shooting community that will continue regardless.
Lead ammunition – It is still, and will remain for a while, unknown as to whether the continued use of lead ammunition will be restricted by the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) process and the European Chemicals Agency. Regardless of our relationship with the European Union any restriction on the manufacture of lead ammunition across Europe will have a massive knock on effect in the UK, leading to issues of import of ammunition and increased domestic pressure for a ban. For this reason the Alliance will continue to work as part of FACE (European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation), using scientific evidence to argue that there are currently no grounds for further restrictions on lead ammunition at the European or domestic level.
AIHTS – The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards was negotiated between the EU, Canada and Russia, and therefore applies to individual EU Member States. It applies new standards to the trapping of fur-bearing mammals relevant to the fur industry in other countries, and is due to have ramifications for the trapping of stoats for wildlife management in the UK. Commonly used traps such as the Fenn and the BMI Magnum Bodygrip would cease to be approved for stoats. This has led to the pest control, farming and gamekeeping sectors to come together to work with Defra and trap manufacturers to negotiate implementation and identify suitable replacement traps. The Countryside Alliance has been a key participant in this process to date, with great success. A two-year delay to implementation to July 2018 has been agreed, as has the promise of some Defra funding towards the testing of new trap designs. However, following the vote to leave the EU there is now some doubt as to whether implementation will be necessary, and as such whether Fenn and Bodygrip traps will indeed lose their approval for stoat control. Clarification will be sought in meetings with Defra over the coming weeks and months, the results of which will be quickly communicated to our members.