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UPDATE - HSE Consultation on Lead Ammunition Restriction: Implications and Responses

Lead Ammunition Restriction: HSE Opens Public Consultation

In a significant development for outdoor enthusiasts and shooting enthusiasts, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has initiated a public consultation in 2023 regarding revised restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in England, Wales, and Scotland. The proposed changes aim to address environmental and safety concerns associated with lead ammunition use.

Summary of Proposed Restrictions

The proposed restrictions are as follows:

  1. Lead Airgun Pellets: Fortunately, no restrictions are currently proposed for lead airgun pellets. This marks a positive shift in the direction of regulation, as the previous proposal for restrictions has been dropped.

  2. Lead Shot for Live Quarry and Target Shooting: The consultation suggests a potential ban within five years, contingent on the consultation outcome. This decision emphasizes the commitment to preserving the environment and minimizing health risks.

  3. Rifle Ammunition for Live Quarry Shooting: At present, no restrictions are proposed. However, this stance may be subject to change depending on the consultation's outcome. The concern here relates to potential secondary poisoning.

  4. Rifle Ammunition for Target Shooting: The use of lead ammunition for target shooting may continue on approved ranges, provided that appropriate mitigation measures for lead removal are in place. This proposal includes a two-year grace period to allow alternative ranges to adapt.

Socio-Economic Implications

These proposals are currently open for a 60-day public consultation, which will close on December 10, 2023. This consultation is critical as it seeks to strike a balance between environmental protection and the interests of shooting enthusiasts.

  • Airgun Industry Implications: It is expected that these proposed restrictions may encourage some shotgun and rifle owners to consider transitioning to air rifles as a viable alternative.

  • Firearms Certificate (FAC) Owners: FAC owners will still have the option to purchase high-power air rifles however the Social-Economical issues outlined in the next point may be cause for concern of these certificate holders.

  • Social and Economic Challenges: The current social and economic challenges faced by Registered Firearms Dealers (RFDs) are notable. Many RFDs are grappling with tough restrictions and market uncertainties, which may make moving to unlicensed Sub-16 Joule (England's Standard) power level air rifles a more appealing option than investing in FAC weapons. It is crucial to consider the decreasing value of FAC weapons as they cannot be easily removed from ownership, leading to poor resale value.

To participate in the consultation and voice your opinion, please use the online survey form provided by the HSE. Although the survey contains technical questions, you can submit your response via the general comments section at the end of the form. If your response exceeds the 2,500-character word limit, you have the option to upload your comments as a Word document.


For further information on the objectives of the study and the proposed outcomes, visit the HSE consultation page here.

These proposed restrictions aim to address environmental and safety concerns while taking into account the interests and challenges faced by shooting enthusiasts and industry stakeholders. Your input can make a difference in shaping these regulations for the future.


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