The transport secretary has ruled out re-staging the HS2 consultation, despite 1,100 answers being overlooked.
In a private letter to Aylesbury MP David Lidington, Patrick Mcloughlin wrote that after looking through the overlooked answers it was agreed that they ‘wouldn’t have made a difference’ to the decision to press ahead.
He also stated that the consultation would not be re-run and wrote ‘I would like to encourage your constituents to continue to participate in future consultations and engagement activities’.
Last month Europe minister Mr Lidington wrote to Mr Mcloughlin calling for the controversial consultation to be carried out again following the debacle.
The overlooked answers included responses from residents in Wendover and a 150-page report by the HS2 Action Alliance campaign group.
The consultation into whether HS2 should go ahead attracted roughly 55,000 responses – mostly opposing the £33 billion high speed rail scheme.
Penny Gaines, of Quainton, chairman of the Stop HS2 campaign group, said: “There’s a lot of people who submitted consultation responses in good faith and they have just found out their responses have been ignored. Many of them are very detailed and took a long time to write.
“It also brings into question whether the consultation was just a box-ticking excercise that they always intended to ignore.”
A day after admitting that the responses had been overlooked, the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd were nominated for a prestigious Civil Service ’use of evidence award’ – a decision described as ’appalling’ by campaigners.
The category is sponsored by Aylesbury-based firm Esri UK, which stressed that it had no control over the shortlisting decision.
Following the announcement that answers had been overlooked, Martin Tett, leader of the 19 councils fighting the plans, said the mistake was likely to form part of a legal challenge – which the 51m group is bringing against the Government’s decision to press ahead with HS2.