In an extremely unusual move for a government minister, David Lidington has publicly called on Patrick McLoughin to restart the flawed HS2 consultation.
In a letter dated 20th September, and published on his website yesterday (24th), Lidington, Minister for Europe, tells McLouglin about his constituencies are “deeply concerned” following the last week’s announcement that a significant further batch of responses were ignored during analysis of the consultation responses.
Lidington’s letter says
“My constituents have expressed their views to me that the consultation held by the Department for Transport was just an exercise which had to be gone through and the decision to proceed with HS2 had already been made.”
This concern is re-enforced by the wording of the nomination for the civil service “Analysis and Use of Evidence” award for which HS2 and the Department for Transport were nominated. The nomination says
“This analysis, followed by the consultation, allowed ministers to conclude that the evidence provided justified proceeding with the project; a decision strongly endorsed by the vast majority of interested commentators.“
Lidington follows up by asking:
“In order to ensure that everyone has full confidence in the consultation process I urge you on behalf of my constituents to consider restarting the consultation process on HS2.”
It is Stop HS2’s view that only a full Public Inquiry into HS2 can show that this £33 billion HS2 proposal is anything other than a vanity project.
As the latest batch of missed out responses were submitted through the HS2 consultation website, we are highly concerned that there may be more responses which HS2 and the Department for Transport have lost completely. We have no confidence now that the Department for Transport is able to now find all responses submitted, we have no confidence that they even properly tracked responses as they were sent in.
While a new HS2 consultation might be able to overcome some of the flaws of the 2011 consultation, which prompted the 51M group’s judicial review – the biased questions, the way Philip Hammond gave information before the end of the consultation to the Campaign for HSR that there were too many “no” responses – only a full public inquiry would ensure that all the information given to the inquiry was used in weighing up the HS2 proposal.