Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Lead shot and non-lead shot for shotgun cartridges

Lead shot can be toxic to birds and animals, and can cause land contamination.

Protecting wildlife by preventing lead shot from being used in wetands

The use of lead shot throughout the UK is restricted to protect waterbirds from lead poisoning.

What you must do

You must not use lead shot when shooting with a shotgun on or over wetlands. Wetlands include:

  • rivers and canals
  • reservoirs, loughs and lochs
  • pools and ponds
  • marine and coastal wetlands
  • inland flight pools
  • farmland that is regularly flooded.

British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC): Protecting waterfowl from lead in wetlands - a practical guide to the lead shot regulations in Scotland

In Northern Ireland the lead shot regulations are based on the Scottish approach and prohibit the use of lead shot on or over any area of wetland for any shooting activity. Wetlands are defined as, regardless of size, any areas of foreshore, marsh, fen, peatland with standing water, regularly or seasonally flooded fields, and other water sources wheter they be natural or man-made, static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt.

Good practice

Use non-lead shot if it is appropriate. Lead shot can cause contamination if it accumulates in the ground. It is therefore good practice to avoid using lead shot wherever possible.

If you do use lead shot, you should collect spent shot and bullets from the shot-fall area to help avoid causing contamination. If you are setting up a new shooting range you can underlay the shot-fall area with concrete and enclose the drainage to prevent contamination.

If you think your land could be contaminated, or if you think you could cause land contamination, see our guidance on contaminated land.

Further information on lead shot

BASC: Lead and non-lead shot

The code of good shooting practice (Adobe PDF - 1.6MB)

Other relevant NetRegs guidance

Land contamination Nature conservation

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