HS2 Ltd have chosen to say they will comply will a ruling from the House of Lords Standing Orders Committee, which deemed they should extend the current HS2 Phase 1 Consultation to the 27th February, under a cloud generated by a Supreme Court ruling on challenges to HS2 on environmental grounds.
At about 4pm on Wednesday 22nd January, 48 hours after the House of Lords Standing Orders Committee said the current consultation concerning the Environmental Statement, HS2 Ltd finally issued a statement saying they would comply with this ruling. This is compared to an immediate response when the equivalent House of Commons committee demanded a shorter extension to the consultation. In both cases, HS2 Ltd opted to issue statements rather than send press releases, which hardly represent a concerted effort to get this information out to the general public.
Unless the Government intended to invoke powers never used in the history of Parliament, they had to comply with the House of Lords Committee ruling, so it can only be assumed that the delay was intended so as the extension to the consultation could be buried under the Supreme Court ruling. The current Phase 2 consultation deadline of 31st January is not affected.
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Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“The consultation deadline for responding to the Phase 1 Environmental Statement had been extended by a Parliamentary body for the second time in a week because of the incompetence of HS2 Ltd. The problem is that instead of saying they would comply with the ruling from the Lords right away, HS2 Ltd decided to wait until the Supreme Court verdict to try and bury this mews. Even now, they have only offered a statement, not a press release, so how are those people who are trying to wade through a gargantuan consultation meant to know they have got another month to respond? HS2 Ltd have been found to have not been living up to their responsibilities, and their response is to not live up to their responsibilities. No-one is surprised!”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“Last week HS2 Ltd claimed to the House of Commons Select Committee that it was OK they had missed out 877 pages from the consultation documents, because they hadn’t deliberately hidden it. We noticed that a number of publications still are using the old deadline, so it’s vital that HS2 publicise this second extension to the consultation as soon as possible. There is a need to ensure that individuals know how much time they have. Many people who want to respond to the consultation are not environmental specialists, but ordinary people trying to understand complex documentation because HS2 affects the places where they live or work.”