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HS2 consultation period extended
THE consultation period on the HS2 Environmental Statement is to be extended by a further three weeks, a group of MPs ruled today.
The Standing Orders Committee announced at 4.30pm this afternoon the consultation - which outlines the impact the controversial project will have on the environment - must now run until February 10.
MPs ruled it should be extended due to mistakes made during the consultation process, which included nearly 900 pages being missing from the online version of the report.
The consultation runs for 56 days but committee members said that time period should start again from December 16, when the report was corrected to include all of the details.
Members found HS2 Ltd had failed to comply with a number of standing orders - written rules under which Parliament conducts its business - during the consultation process, with residents being asked to plough through 50,000 pages of a report before making submissions.
Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan said: "There were several standing orders that were brought into question that they had contravened.
"They decided they would suspend the last one on the condition that they ran the consultation from December 16 for 56 days, which means an extension of 17 days it took to get all the copies corrected.
"I have been asking for the consultation to be extended for a long time, so I am pleased with the outcome.
"This is Parliament at its best. We have rules and standing orders and government departments must observe those. It was Parliament saying, 'This is our judgement'."
Today's hearing was the first time the Standing Orders Committee had been called in six years.
Joe Rukin, campaign manager of the Stop HS2 group, said: "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."
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