A year ago

It is appropriate, perhaps, that a year ago today Natural England issued a licence for the brood meddling of Hen Harriers. Tomorrow will see the third and final day of the court hearing of my legal challenge, and a similar but separate one by the RSPB, against that decision. We will not hear the judge’s verdict for a while, where ‘a while’ is most likely to be a few weeks or a very few months.

I’d like to thank all of you who have helped along the way through a massive crowdfunding response, messages of support and answering questions. I’ve had to put in a lot of hours into this legal challenge, and a lot of emotional investment too, but I have been very happy to do so, and I couldn’t have done it without all of you being alongside me. Thank you.

I’d also like to thank my (our) legal team; Tessa Gregory and Lewis Hadler of Leigh Day and David Wolfe and Zoe Leventhal from Matrix Chambers. They have not only been sparklingly bright but great colleagues too. They are committed to the case (and the cause) and I am convinced that we have given it our best shot.

Likes(56)Dislikes(2)

Guest blog – Ban Lead Ammunition by Caroline Lucas MP

Lead is a highly toxic substance. It poses huge risks to human and animal health. That’s why it has been banned from petrol, paints, and various household items in many countries across the world, including in the UK. There is however still a glaring omission in these prohibitions: lead is still widely used in ammunition for hunting and shooting across the UK. This is an astonishing exception in regulation and must urgently change.

It is estimated that at least 5000 tonnes of lead ammunition is deposited into the UK environment annually, accumulating a toxic legacy and causing suffering and death to large numbers of birds – and of course, there are risks to human health too. It took many decades for policy-makers to realise the perils of leaded petrol – but with many species of wildlife facing threats as never before, we cannot afford to wait that long. We need to see action now.

In good news, there are a number of useful alternatives to lead ammunition –  meaning there’s now no excuse for the shooting community not to embrace alternatives as soon as possible. Indeed, any individual, conservation organisation, or statutory agencies that manages land must ensure that any shooting that takes place on their property uses non-toxic ammunition.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation states that without clear evidence of the harm caused by lead, it will not consider a change in its policy – but the evidence of leads toxic legacy in the environment is growing. For example, a 2015 report by scientists at Oxford University found that 100,000 wetlands birds are killed every year by discarded lead ammunition. Speaking to BBC News at that time, Lord Krebs, emeritus professor of zoology at the University of Oxford, and former chair of the UK Food Standards Agency, said there was “an overwhelming body of evidence” that lead ammunition was “a risk both to humans and to wildlife”.

To help put an end to this toxic practice, this week I’ve tabled a cross-party motion in Parliament calling for an end to the sale and use of lead ammunition – full text below. These motions are a simple way of MPs calling on the Government to act – in this case, to protect nature and wildlife, as well as public health. Please do ask your MP to sign up.

That this House notes that even low levels of lead are toxic to humans and other animals and that in the UK, lead was banned from use in petrol, paint and water pipes decades ago, with most other uses strictly controlled; further notes that lead ammunition (gunshot and bullets) remains a glaring and largely unregulated exception; expresses concern that at least 5000 tonnes of lead ammunition is deposited into the UK environment annually, accumulating a toxic legacy and causing suffering and death to large numbers of birds; is alarmed that in England, even the limited restrictions from 1999 banning certain uses of lead gunshot are largely ignored; is deeply concerned that an estimated 50,000 – 100,000 wildfowl die of lead poisoning each winter in the UK; firmly believes that individuals, NGOs and statutory agencies that manage land must ensure that any shooting that takes place on their land uses non-toxic ammunition; and calls on the Government to put the UK on the front foot by introducing a ban on the sale, possession and use of all lead ammunition across the UK.


https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52444/ban-on-the-sale-possession-and-use-of-lead-ammunition
Likes(82)Dislikes(2)

A meaningful vote?

This evening, probably, MPs will vote on what is almost always called Mrs May’s agreement with the EU – it’s interesting that it is less often called the government’s agreement, probably because the government keeps losing members over it.

It seems unlikely that TM the PM will win her vote. But if she does we will have the benefit of EU environmental legislation for a few more years during a transition period (and just perhaps for longer).

If TM the PM loses the vote then the chances are strengthened both that we will lose the full protection of EU legislation at 11pm on my birthday of 29 March this year (the no-deal option that my MP, Tom Pursglove, favours) but also that we will keep those protections for ‘ever’ (the ‘Remain’ option that I favour).

What happens this evening has huge environmental consequences.

Those environmental consequences have hardly had a mention in the last three years when we have been ‘debating’ our future in or out of the EU. Shame on the media, politicians, and the wildlife NGOs.

Likes(54)Dislikes(5)

EDM #1963

Early Day Motions are used to highlight issues. Well done to Caroline Lucas and her four cosignatories for raising the issue of lead ammunition in this way.

The text of their EDM is as follows:

That this House notes that even low levels of lead are toxic to humans and other animals and that in the UK, lead was banned from use in petrol, paint and water pipes decades ago, with most other uses strictly controlled; further notes that lead ammunition (gunshot and bullets) remains a glaring and largely unregulated exception; expresses concern that at least 5000 tonnes of lead ammunition is deposited into the UK environment annually, accumulating a toxic legacy and causing suffering and death to large numbers of birds; is alarmed that in England, even the limited restrictions from 1999 banning certain uses of lead gunshot are largely ignored; is deeply concerned that an estimated 50,000 – 100,000 wildfowl die of lead poisoning each winter in the UK; firmly believes that individuals, NGOs and statutory agencies that manage land must ensure that any shooting that takes place on their land uses non-toxic ammunition; and calls on the Government to put the UK on the front foot by introducing a ban on the sale, possession and use of all lead ammunition across the UK.

https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52444/ban-on-the-sale-possession-and-use-of-lead-ammunition

I’ll be writing to my MP to ask him to sign this EDM – I doubt he will, but there’s no harm in asking.

You could ask your MP to sign too – why not? Don’t bother if your MP is a minister, whip or PPS as they do not normally sign EDMs. Nor do the Speaker or Deputy Speakers. But that leaves hundreds of MPs who shou.ld be asked to sign and made aware of the issue.

I’ll keep you informed of the progress of the amassing of signatures as time passes.

Likes(55)Dislikes(5)

Let’s give this a push in the next three weeks

I’d like to see Les Wallace’s e-petition for a proper economic study of grouse shooting get a response from Defra. To do so it needs to acquire 5,520 signatures in 19 days – that’s 291 signatures each day. That’s a very big ask but it is certainly possible.

See Les’s guest blog on the subject of his e-petition – click here.

Please sign this e-petition for an economic study of grouse shooting – click here.

Likes(37)Dislikes(5)