THE Transport Secretary has angered campaigners after using a power of veto to prevent a report on HS2 being made public.
Patrick McLoughlin announced today the Project Assessment Review of the controversial scheme will not be released - saying the public interest 'favours nondisclosure'.
The review, made by the Major Projects Authority, gave HS2 an amber-red rating - meaning there were "major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas".
But despite calls for it to be made available publicly, Mr McLoughlin used a rarely-used power of veto to block its circulation.
The move has angered campaigners, who have now warned the Transport Secretary's decision could now be the subject of a Judicial Review at the High Court.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said: "It is absolutely disgraceful that the government doesn’t want MPs, who should be fully informed before voting on the colossal expenditure HS2 entails, to actually have all the information about the project.
"This just proves that there has been, and continues to be, an agenda from government to deceive MPs and the public with spin and dismiss any independent information showing just how bad the HS2 project is. It also shows that this government's supposed ‘transparency agenda’ is as transparent as a lump of coal. What is the point in having reports on projects if they cannot be used to inform the debate around them?"
Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan said: "I am disappointed that the Secretary of State has used executive veto powers to block publication of the Project Assessment Review on HS2.
"This decision can only lead to the speculation and conclusion that the report is unfavourable towards HS2.
"I will be examining whether there is any way to get this decision reversed."
Mr McLoughlin said: "My decision to exercise this power of veto in this case was not taken lightly. I have taken into account the views of Cabinet, Ministers and the Information Commissioner, in considering both the balance of the public interest in disclosure and nondisclosure and whether this is an exceptional case. My view is that the public interest favours nondisclosure. I have also concluded that this constitutes an exceptional case and that the exercise of this power of veto is warranted.
"In summary, the Major Projects Review was conducted to inform the development of the HS2 project. The public interest in ensuring that projects of this scale, importance and cost are properly controlled and overseen is very high indeed. The assurance of confidentiality is important in the conduct of the review. In my view, there is nothing in the nature or content of this particular report which outweighs that strong public interest against disclosure."