Department for Transport admit to ignoring another set of HS2 consultation responses, claiming “they would not have made a difference”.
Today, September 18th, the Department for Transport issued a written statement admitting that they ignored up to 722 more consultation responses from the 2011 HS2 consultation: these responses are in addition to the July 2012 announcement of 413 responses that they had missed out.
The flaws in 2011 HS2 consultation are the subject of the Judicial Review being brought by the 51M group of local councils, due to be heard in December.
Once again, the Department for Transport claim that these responses ‘do not provide any information that was not already included in the previous Consultation Summary Report or would have made a difference to the substantive content or balance of that report’.
However the responses ignored in July include submissions from Cherwell District Council, HS2 Action Alliance, the Heathrow Hub group and the Stop HS2’s campaign manager, Joe Rukin’s personal response.
Further, the September written statement claims that “approximately 0.4% of answers provided to individual consultation questions were affected”. However, this is misleading as 520 of the 38,442 responses – or nearly 1.5% – of the answers to question one, about the governments overall strategy, were missed out of the analysis. Including the missing responses from July could put this figure up to 2.4%.
Stop HS2 Campaign Co-ordinator Joe Rukin said;
“I completely agree that the responses wouldn’t have changed the outcome because the Government had already decided that they would ignore the vast majority of well thought out responses giving sound arguments for why HS2 is a bad idea and should not happen. They only ever saw the consultation as a box-ticking exercise, and now we know they were so incompetent as to miss the box not just once, but twice. The Government have shown themselves to be incompetent and incapable of meeting their legal obligations from the start, and it is now clear that if HS2 is not cancelled, the only credible way to progress the project would be via a fully independent public inquiry.”
“Back in July I was told my response had initially been missed, but when I read the analysis document, it was clear I had been missed twice as HS2 Ltd had concluded that no-one had said many of the things which I said. The analysis then also conluded that the City Councils of Nottingham, Leeds and Doncaster all filled in their reponse without mentioning the name of their city once, which I find hard to believe. For the Department for Transport to say that the missing responses didn’t say anything new is totally disingenuous as it is clear that last time they didn’t bother to analyse them.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“This shows yet again the sheer bumbling incompetence of HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport. People will rightly be very angry to discover that their responses to the consultation were ignored. These responses were made in good faith, using the online consultation website provided by the Department for Transport and yet the Department for Transport didn’t even ensure these responses were analysed.”
“In July, we found that the Department for Transport’s analysis had missed out 413 responses to the consultation. Now we found that they ignored up to another 722 responses. The big question now is, how many responses did they ignore that they still don’t know about? It’s clear that we cannot trust the existing HS2 consultation process.”