HS2 bill timetable illegal?

Hulton Park

26th November 2013

The HS2 Hybrid Bill was submitted to parliament yesterday.  But with only 56 days consultation on 50,000 pages of documents, CPRE believes the consultation timescale is likely to breach international law.

Responding to the announcement that the consultation on the environmental impact of HS2 will end as early as 24 January 2014, Ralph Smyth, barrister and Senior Transport Campaigner for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘The Government has chosen the minimum length of time allowed [1] for its consultation on the biggest ever environmental impact assessment in UK history. A 56 day formal consultation period for 50,000 pages of documents means you would need to read 1,000 pages a day just to know what is proposed. To add insult to injury this period includes the Christmas and New Year holidays, when Parliament has 23 days off.

‘The UN Aarhus Convention requires “sufficient time…for the public to prepare and participate effectively during the environmental decision-making”. Clearly more time is needed for such a large consultation so CPRE will be formally raising the UK’s non-compliance with the appropriate UN bodies [2].’

HS2 Ltd has told CPRE that it will take up to 20 working days to make open data from the consultation on the formal Environmental Statement available. This means the charity will not be able until early January to update its interactive mapping of HS2’s impacts at www.hs2maps.com. This has proved much more accessible to people affected than the technical engineering drawings published by HS2 Ltd.

CPRE Oxfordshire remains opposed to HS2 as we believe other steps should be taken to improve infrastructure.  

Meanwhile we continue to support local parishes who are fighting for the best possible mitigation should HS2 go ahead.  



1. Parliamentary Standing Orders require 56 days for formal consultation on Environmental Statements. This period can only start once the proposals have been advertised and can be viewed at places along the route, such as in local libraries. These requirements are likely to be completed on Friday 29 November.

2. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee is able to consider communications from the public as to whether member States are meeting their obligations. More at: www.unece.org/env/pp/ccbackground.html