HS2 consultation extended following ‘gross incompetence’

HS2 campaigner Joe Rukin
HS2 campaigner Joe Rukin

HS2’s passage through Parliament has been delayed after MPs ruled that a consultation on the line must be extended.

The consultation on the £50bn line failed to comply with parliamentary standing orders because a total of 877 pages were missing from online and memory stick versions of the consultation documents, which consisted of more than 50,000 pages in total.

It had been due to conclude on January 24 but has now been extended by the Commons Standard Orders Committee until February 10.

It means a parliamentary debate is unlikely to take place until late March.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “With the Standing Orders Committee having to be called for the first time in six years and agreeing that Parliamentary Standing Orders have been breached, yet again those in charge of HS2 have been proved to be completely incompetent, only interested in rushing this white elephant through as fast as possible, and like the politicians who support the project, offering excuses which are weaker than ‘the dog ate my homework’.

“A few typos would be excusable, but missing hundreds of pages is gross incompetence, and trying to get away with it is gross arrogance.

“Getting an extension to this consultation is good news, but even with the extra fortnight, it still means that this consultation, on a document over 50,000 pages long, is still the shortest consultation of the six there have been on HS2, which still isn’t fair on anyone wanting to make a reasoned response.

“If this is truly the biggest single engineering project the country has ever seen, why are we not having a proper public inquiry on HS2?”

A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said the committee had confirmed the bill ‘can proceed as planned’.

He said: “We are happy to comply with the committee’s instruction to extend the Environmental Statement consultation period for a couple of weeks, to allow for full and proper consultation on some pages that were missing from the original material.

“HS2 is the most significant infrastructure project the UK has seen in modern times and a project the country cannot do without.”

It was also announced that the Supreme Court will rule on the legality of the government’s environment impact assessment on Wednesday, January 22.