Was that the best that you could manage?

In my blog Ask a silly question (posted 12 Mar 2012) I reported on the analysis of the responses to Question 6 of the HS2 Public consultation by Dialogue by Design in its report High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future Consultation Summary Report (here). In this blog I will look at what respondents to Question 6 said about the adequacy of the Appraisal of Sustainability (AoS) to inform the public consultation.

Dialogue by Design summarises the responses on this point in paragraph 6.3.3, which is on page 118 of its report, as follows:

“… most respondents who comment on the AoS believe it is insufficient at this stage. Of the 14,170 respondents who say they find the AoS inadequate, many take the view that it is incomplete or lacks sufficient detail and would like more information. Comments include views that the AoS does not adequately address local impacts. Some respondents express concern about the non-committal language of the AoS, which leads them to question the likelihood of environmental benefits being realised. A number of respondents are worried that no fieldwork appears to have been undertaken to inform the appraisal.”

I agree strongly with all of these points. In my blog How was it for you? (posted 26 Mar 2011) I said, rather unkindly:

“Overall, it is difficult to see this piece of work as anything other than a ‘box ticking’ exercise that is necessary in order to comply with the requirements of Securing the Future. The fact that what has come out of this exercise as the ‘best choice’ is a largelygreenfield solution that tears through the countryside, with very limited capability to be diverted in order to avoid sensitive areas, illustrates this point.”

In my blog Never mind the details (posted 14 Sep 2011) I reported the view that had been expressed in the consultation response by the 51m grouping of local authorities that the AoS is “not an accurate (or informative) portrayal of all the sustainability impacts and thus HS2 is likely to have much more of negative impact than that already acknowledged”.

I also reported in Never mind the details that HS2 Ltd seems to acknowledge that the AoS has limitations in paragraph 4.7.1 on page 34 of Volume 1 of the AoS (here), which says:

“The AoS is a high level appraisal devised in large part to support the development of scheme options. Any impacts identified by it and reported here should be viewed as provisional at this stage. Further more detailed design work would be carried out in due course on the proposed scheme and on any changes to it that are secured through consultation during 2011.”

However in paragraph 3.1.12 on pages 12 and 13 of its document Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Appraisal of Sustainability (here), HS2 Ltd gives its final verdict on the adequacy of the AoS:

“Overall, while we understand the desire for more information, we are satisfied that the approach we took to examining the impacts on the environment and sustainability in the AoS was appropriate for the stage of development of the proposals, a view expressed by the Environment Agency in their consultation response. More information, as was requested in consultation responses, would be available at future stages in the process.”

So no concessions have been made to the 14,170 detractors who took the trouble to make their views on the adequacy of the AoS known; much as we would have expected really, I guess.

PS: In the interests of balance I should report that Dialogue by Design does quote statements expressing general satisfaction with the AoS, but these messages of support clearly express views held by only a minority of respondents to the public consultation.


One response to this post.

  1. Did you ever reply to the HS2 consultation pointing out that the documentation received from them lacked clarity?
    Do you have a copy of your reply?
    Have you ever requested more information on compensation and entitlement?
    Did you receive a response to your request for information?
    Do you still have a copy of that correspondence?

    If you can help please visit http://south-heath.co.uk/have-you-ever-written-to-hs2/


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