The consultation process over the Government's flagship high-speed rail project has been brandished "a shambles" after it emerged hundreds of responses were left out.
Ministers confirmed a "very small proportion" of responses were not fully analysed due to "technical errors", but insist they would not have changed the outcome of the consultation.
The £32 billion project will see ultra-fast trains running from London to Birmingham by 2026 and there are plans to extend the line onto Leeds via South Yorkshire by 2032/33.
Campaigners who are fighting the plans have warned that it will not provide the economic benefits claimed and will destroy picturesque landscapes.
Around 520 respondents had one of their responses to the questions omitted from the analysis, 130 had responses to two questions omitted and 44 had responses to three questions omitted.
A total of 20 respondents had all the answers they gave omitted from the analysis, although not all answered each of the seven questions.
– Hilary Wharf, Director of HS2 Action Alliance
Our views were ignored and now we have further evidence the analysis of the consultation responses was a shambles.
– Norman Baker MP, Transport Minister
Inclusion in the original analysis would not have changed the substance of [the] findings, nor affected the considerations which informed the decisions following the consultation.