Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner writes: I was in Brussels last week at a meeting of European fieldsports body, FACE, of which the Countryside Alliance is an active member. I am honoured to be FACE’s UK Chairman and to represent British sporting interests at the highest level and I can feed back some interesting points from the meeting. I have some good news to report in that the move to reopen the Firearms Directive, being pushed by some as a means to reduce trafficking of illegal firearms, has drifted in the last couple of months.
You may recall that in late 2013 when this was first mooted by Commissioner Malmstrom I wrote that while it is a laudable aim to reduce the trafficking of illegal firearms, the impact would be felt by the law-abiding shooting community because focussing on legally held firearms is easier than trying to root out the illegal. Read that e-newsletter here. We are by no means out of the woods yet, but it would be a victory for common sense if this Directive was not re-opened, especially on this pretext. We will continue to communicate with MEPs and make representations to this effect.
On a less positive note the new Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, has been asked to look at the Birds Directive to see whether there is overprotection of habitats at the expense of development. The danger is that re-opening the Birds Directive could be the perfect opportunity for the likes of Birdlife International (the RSPB at international level) to try to reclassify certain species from Annex 2 (shootable) to Annex 1 (protected). An extremely close eye will be kept on this, and as ever any misguided and/or negative moves will be countered by both the Countryside Alliance and FACE. As and when it would be helpful for you to take action on this issue we will of course let you know.
With the news that the EU-initiated study into the toxicity of lead has been put on hold, and with the recent reversal of a lead shot ban in Norway, views in Brussels about lead could slowly be changing for the better. It is increasingly clear that the evidence for a ban on lead shot is sparse.
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