1. ITV Report

Fury over HS2 award nomination

A Hitachi Class 395 Javelin train as it passes through Ashford, Kent, using the HS1 Channel Tunnel Rail Link Photo: PA

The company behind the new high speed rail link through Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire is at the centre of a major new row after it emerged it is up for a top award for its consultation on the scheme, despite failing to consider hundreds of responses due to technical errors.

Those that were overlooked included some of the main protest groups.

This week officials pledged to send an apology to all those whose evidence was overlooked.

The body in charge of the high speed line, HS2 Ltd, and the Department for Transport are both up for the Civil Service 2012 ‘Analysis And Use Of Evidence Award’ – which is sponsored by Aylesbury-based ESRI UK.

Aylesbury is one of the towns at the centre of the campaign against the £32 billion plan.

On Tuesday the under secretary for transport blamed ‘technical errors’ for more than 400 responses, including some from residents in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, being overlooked in the consultation into whether HS2 should go ahead.

The coalition have said the overlooked responses would not have made any difference, but the mistake is likely to form the basis of a legal challenge by anti-HS2 campaigners.

When asked about the shortlisting for the award, Stop HS2 chairman Penny Gaines, of Quainton, near Aylesbury said: “I think their use of submitted evidence is appalling and I’m frankly quite shocked.”

An ESRI UK spokesman said: “The Civil Service live awards are run by Dods Publishing and, as a sponsor of the awards, Esri UK is completely independent of the nominations and the short-list process followed by the organisers.”

55,000 people responded to the consultation and HS2 has insisted al the arguments were considered and apologised for the error.