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Lead & Non-Lead Shot
Home > Shooting > Lead & Non-Lead Shot

Restrictions on lead shot 

Since Westminster signed the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) (November 1999) it is binding throughout the UK, but its implementation is a matter for the devolved governments.  In England the lead shot regulations ban the use of lead shot over all foreshore, over specified SSSIs, and for the shooting of all ducks and geese, coot and moorhen – wherever they occur.  The Welsh Assembly introduced similar regulations in September 2002.  Scotland's regulations came into force at the end of March 2005 however Northern Ireland has yet to introduce restrictions.

ENGLAND – changes to the Lead Shot Regulations

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ first review of the Regulations resulted in some welcome changes, namely:

The removal of common snipe and golden plover from the list of species (i.e. they are shootable  with lead – except on the foreshore or the listed SSSIs); a reduction of around 50 sites in the list of SSSIs where lead is banned (although some new sites have been added); and more emphasis on the police being the main enforcers of the regulations. If in doubt whether your shooting is on one of the listed SSSIs, contact BASC.

DEFRA is expected to undertake a full review of the Regulations, probably in 2006.


The Welsh Assembly Government imposed restrictions on lead shot based closely on the English approach, from 1st September 2002.  Up-to-date information is available from the BASC Wales office - 01686 688861.


The system in Scotland is based around the RAMSAR definition of wetlands and BASC Scotland has produced a guide to how the law works. This can be downloaded by clicking here or you can contact the Scottish office on 01350 723226. If you will be shooting in Scotland this season, please ensure you understand and comply with the legislation. Contact the BASC Scotland office for details – 01350 723226.


There are no indications of any proposed restrictions yet in Northern Ireland.


It is vitally important that non-lead cartridges are used wherever lead shot is banned under the Regulations.  It is in everybody’s interests that compliance is high.

In 2002, two thirds of ducks sampled at game dealers throughout the country had been shot with lead, revealed a disturbing, and damaging, lack of compliance.  The problem appeared greatest in inland shoots.

This season (2004/05) Defra is monitoring compliance with Regulations. It is vital that the shooting community acts responsibly in this matter – and is seen to be responsible.  Otherwise we could well  face a total ban on lead shot at the main review of the Regulations – which is expected in 2006.

Increased monitoring of shoots and game dealers is likely this season.  Remember that shoot organisers (landowners, shoot captains, gamekeepers, agents and club chairmen) can be prosecuted, as well as the individual Gun, for allowing lead shot to be used illegally.  Prosecution may also lead to loss of shotgun certificates and BASC insurance cover.

Wherever we are shooting, particularly inland, we must not tolerate irresponsible behaviour among those who shoot ducks and geese over the foreshore, important wetlands, and wherever else they are encountered – even if it is inconvenient to change cartridges.

Please note too that the Code of Good Shooting Practice, issued jointly by BASC, CA, CLA, GCT, NGO and other organisations, calls for non-lead shot to be used during any game or rough shooting which might otherwise deposit spent lead shot into wetland areas used by feeding waterfowl.


Information is available on a variety of subjects from BASC head office, including:  the legislation itself; non-lead alternatives (especially steel shot); homeloading; and ensuring all guns on the shoot/in the club etc. comply with the lead shot regulations.  Contact 01244 573011.

The Regulations for England can be found as follows:

· Environment Protection (Restrictions on Use of Lead Shot) (England) (Amendment)  Regulations 2003.
Available to download from:

· The Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002.
Available to download from:

· The Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999.
Available to download from:

The Regulations for Wales:

· The Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (Wales) Regulations 2002
 Available to download from


To download a copy of the BASC lead shot poster please click here. Alternatively call 01244 573016 to request one by post.

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