A total of 877 pages of information affecting the constituencies of 17 MPs has been omitted from digital versions of the current environmental statement consultation on HS2. It has also transpired that while the Environmental Statement consultation is about Phase 1, it contains the Phase 2 sustainability statement. Communities on Phase 2 have not been informed of this, and physical copies of the consultation documents which have been made available in libraries and to councils on Phase 1 of the route, have not been made available north of Lichfield.
In June last year, Parliamentary procedures where changed to allow the 55,000 page consultation to be distributed on memory stick, but pages were missing from these, along with the online version of documents. When Patrick McLoughlin wrote to MPs informing them of the error on 16th December, he stated “Most corrections relate to just one page, but a slightly greater number were omitted from a number of the Cultural Heritage reports and the Land Quality reports.”, However, a document attached to the updated memory sticks received by MPs on January 2nd clearly states that 877 pages had been missed off from the earlier versions.
Despite HS2 Ltd admitting to omissions (but not the scale of them) over a fortnight ago, replacement memory sticks have as yet only made it to the House of Commons, not members of the public, with there now being just three weeks before the consultation is due to close. Despite this error, and the fact that a consultation last year on HS2 compensation was extended when ‘supplementary information’ was made available, this 56 day consultation will not be extended. On December 19th, Leader of the House Andrew Lansley told the House of Commons;
“I am not in a position to extend the period as she [Cheryl Gillan] requests, not least because the 56-day consultation period for the environmental statement that precedes the production of a report by the person appointed by the House was determined not by the Department for Transport but by the House, by means of orders made in June relating to changes in the Standing Orders covering hybrid Bills.”
UPDATE 7th January – Parliamentary officials known as ‘The Examiners’ will meet on 8th January to decide “whether Standing Orders 13, 27A and 224A have been complied with”. However, even if these standing orders have been breached, it may be the case that no action is taken.
MPs whose constituencies are affected are; Nick Hurd, Dominic Grieve, Cheryl Gillan, David Gauke, David Liddington, John Bercow, Tony Baldry, Andrea Leadsom, Caroline Spelman, Dan Byles, Liam Byrne, Jack Dromey, Andrew Mitchell, Shabana Mahmood, Chris Pincher, Jeremy Wright & Frank Dobson.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“Just when you think HS2 Ltd have displayed maximum incompetence, they lower the bar yet again. For three years whenever anyone has asked a question which officials have been unable to answer, they have said ‘It’ll be in the Environmental Statement’, but what we have seen in the Environmental Statement is contradictory and incomplete information, and now we find out there was a load of stuff they missed out, yet again.”
“The whole concept of having a consultation on a 55,000 page document over 56 days which included Christmas was disgusting and completely undemocratic, but now we find that HS2 Ltd left out crucial information from the documents and they won’t extend the deadline. The whole thing is a farce, and when Patrick McLoughlin has the bare faced cheek to tell MPs the problems related mostly to just one page, when the reality is that 877 have been lost, it shows that there is no depth the Government won’t sink to to spin their vanity project.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said:
“It is entirely typical of HS2 Ltd to send out incomplete information, as from the start they have been rushing things through, always trying to do them quickly, never interested in doing them properly. Last year, a property consultation was extended when new information came out, so why can’t this consultation be extended when it turns out that HS2 Ltd have omitted so much data?”