The public does not have enough time to consider HS2 Environmental Statement details

  |  Published: Dec 4th 2013

The Chiltern Society has asked Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to increase the public consultation period for HS2 to give people a chance to study and respond to over 50,000 pages of documents and maps properly.

The Government is closing the public consultation on 24 January after only 56 days. It will be the last opportunity the public has to comment on the £50 billion scheme.

The conservation group, with more than 6,000 members, says the eight weeks being given to respond to what the Government itself describes as the largest infrastructure project in Europe is far too short, particularly with the Christmas and New Year holiday in the middle.

For instance, a current Government consultation asking for public comments on the maximum speed limit for tractors lasts 12 weeks, and another due to start next week on marine conservation zones lasts for 16 weeks.

John Gladwin, who is leading the Chiltern Society's opposition to HS2, said the entire consultation process is difficult for the public to participate in.

He said: "While the documents are available online, the detailed maps are very large and many people will not have computers powerful enough to handle such large data files.

"In addition people have to pay if they want additional documents to share with others, and in any event it is difficult to find out on the website how to request these papers.  It amounts to a disincentive to participate."

Mr Gladwin said the society rejects Mr McLoughlin's stated view to local MPs that the consultation time is short because a HS2 environmental statement has already been published and consulted on in a draft form.

He said: "The draft environmental statement contained a significant number of factual errors and there was a substantial amount of missing data. In effect we are having to scrutinise this enormous document line by line from scratch."

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