EU: the REACH Committee has decided on the lead ban.  "Hunters' fundamental legal rights have been breached”

The REACH Committee has decided the lead ban in and over wetlands in unchanged form. As already reported, this means that after even a light shower, in principle everything is considered a wetland. This is due to the fixed 100-meter buffer zone. The first associations have already reacted: the German Hunting Association (DJV), for example, criticizes in a statement that now many shooting ranges will have to be converted if they are located in such a wetland. As an operator, you'll have to reckon with a 7-digit expense to do that. In addition, the legal uncertainty for hunters is criticized too: according to the regulation, hunters must justify themselves as soon as they are found with lead ammo in a wetland and thus prove that they have not used it. The reversal of the burden of proof associated with this is also questionable in terms of the rule of law.

According to the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), 23 member states in Europe have already banned the use of lead ammo. The main change brought about by the regulation is the fact that 7 million European hunters are now facing legal problems. FACE has also produced a video on the subject (click here to watch).

As a result of the decision of the REACH Committee, the text can no longer be changed. The only way to avert the lead ban is for the European Parliament or the Council to contradict the proposal.

Puddles = wetlands?

From the very beginning, the definition of wetlands (explained here by us) and the size of buffer zones have also been hotly debated. The definition preferred by ECHA  (European Chemicals Agency) and the European Commission is that of the so-called Ramsar Convention. This is namely the "Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat". If one followed the definition of a wetland according to this convention, any area temporarily covered by water would be a “wetland”. So even a puddle, no matter how small. These areas would then be extended by buffer zones, in which the lead ban would also apply. The EU Commission describes this definition as "appropriate”, as it can be applied by hunters and law enforcement authorities – a rather bizarre view of things. To what extent the operators of open shooting ranges could be affected by this definition remains to be clarified.

FACE's Statement on the decision of the REACH Committee

On September 7th FACE General Assembly released a statement on the decision of the REACH Committee. “Noting with great concern that Member States’ REACH representatives and the European Commission have failed to respect fundamental legal rights of citizens within and related to the proposal,” FACE also denounces that 7 million hunters' fundamental legal rights “have been breached”. In particular, FACE affirms that “the presumption of innocence, which is a fundamental right under EU and national law, is not respected in the proposal with regards to the ban on the possession of lead shot” and deeply regrets “that hunters and enforcement officers will be faced with widespread legal uncertainty with regards to: the vague and fluid definition of a wetland, which includes small and temporary puddles and peatlands without visible water; the 100 metre buffer zones around any water; the ban on the possession of lead shot.”

FACE statement concludes calling “on Members of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to reject the proposal from the REACH Committee on the basis of its illegality, inapplicability and disproportionality to ensure the issues are correctly re-considered within the REACH Committee.”

Read the full FACE statement here. will keep following developments and informing you. Stay tuned!

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