HS2 Ltd have admitted that they ignored 413 of the responses to their public consultation last summer, because 407 were not forwarded to the company doing the work, with others being counted as duplicates when they were not. As shown in Box 21 of the analysis of the responses, it is no real surprise that only one of the 413 submissions made comments supportive of Government, and that was talking about potential mitigation of the route, not the proposal itself. Individuals missed from the analysis of responses include the MP for the constituency effected by the most miles of HS2, Kenilworth & Southam MP Jeremy Wright, and Campaign Coordinator for Stop HS2 Joe Rukin.
The list of organisations which were ignored in the consultation analysis includes seven environmental organisations, one of which is The Wildlife Trusts, who like HS2 Action Alliance, Cherwell District Council and Heathrow Hub who were also missed, are currently involved in Judicial Reviews against HS2. The 150 page response from HS2AA is the second document the DfT have ‘lost’ from that organisation as their response to the previous consultation on compensation was also ‘mislaid’. Three action groups against HS2 from; Offchurch, The Chiltern Ridges and Wendover were also overlooked, and also missing from the main analysis were The Green Party, The Freshfield Foundation and the New Economics Foundation which have all been highly critical of HS2.
Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;
“As part of my response to the HS2 consultation, I said that I had little faith in the process, but now it seems that even having a little faith was too much. After the Chilterns Conservation Board actually got a rebuttal to their response while the consultation was still ongoing, we were told that the DfT had identified people and organisations whose responses they wanted to see fast tracked. Now we know they were fact tracked to the recycling bin.”
“We always knew that the consultation would be a farce, especially after Chief Engineer Andrew McNaughton said; ‘The most important thing right now is that we are seen to have had a consultation.’. All they wanted to do was jump through a hoop and tick a box, whilst ignoring the public, but now we know they couldn’t even do that properly. This is just symptomatic of the way HS2 Ltd and the DfT haven’t been able to do one single thing properly now for over two years. Justine Greening said when she was an opposition MP that she found the way the previous Government dealt with the Heathrow Consultation was ‘deeply, deeply concerning’, well the concern about this consultation, like the entire case for HS2 is now deeper than the Titanic. If they are not going to cancel the project, there is only one way to fill the democratic deficit left by the HS2 Consultation, to hold a full and proper public inquiry.”
Hilary Wharf, Director of HS2AA, said;
“The Government’s Consultation was a sham. We already know that they had concealed crucial evidence and now we see that they ‘lost’ responses they didn’t like. To lose our first consultation response back in 2010 was unfortunate but to lose it again smacks at carelessness. As a leading opposition organisation this is quite shocking. We gave extensive evidence in our 150 page report which covered material that is still excluded from the Consultation summary.”
“We have also been talking to our lawyers, and it is hard to see how the HS2 consultation and the decision to proceed, can conceivably meet the standards set for a public consultation. These latest revelations on top of everything else, can only strengthen our case against Government. They should simply admit that the decision to proceed was wrong, rather than wait to be forced there by the courts”