1. Community engagement
At various points the Scoping Report refers to consultation with the community. Sometimes the nature of this is specified but at other times it is left ambiguous. Where it is specified, it is often confined eg in the Ecology chapter ‘consultation’ with the community is limited to requests for data from local wildlife groups.
STOP HS2 regards the engagement of the full community in the process of conducting the EIA as fundamental to ensuring both its legitimacy and validity. Currently HS2 Ltd projects the Community Forums as the loci of their engagement with the communities. STOP HS2 regards this as insufficient because
- Community Forums have been set up by HS2 Ltd not by the communities
- they have restricted membership and terms of reference (NB HS2 Ltd send out the invitations and have not asked for suggestions as to who should be invited)
- and they meet infrequently and without full administrative support (proper minutes etc.)
- Stop HS2 notes that when HS1 was being built, leaders of the county councils affected had regular meetings with ministers in the Department for Transport: this is not happening with HS2.
STOP HS2 will look for a more thorough and honest commitment from HS2 Ltd to achieving robust and legitimate methods to involve local communities in understanding and mitigating the major impact that HS2 would have on them. This will involve either accepting a wider, less constrained and better supported role for Community Forums, or recognising Action Groups and parish councils as full partners.