Campaigners face a race against time as they battle the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link after being given just 56 days to respond to more than 50,000 pages of documents.
moreThe mammoth HS2 Hybrid Bill and adjoining Environmental Impact Report for the £50bn scheme was published to Parliament yesterday and opponents were quick to condemn the short timeframe claiming is near impossible to absorb all the information and examine the detail.
More than 800 pages would have to be read each day of the dossier which when when printed in full is expected to be around 21ft tall, weighing nearly half a ton.
And the Government could now be faced with legal challenges as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the tight consultation timescale for the HS2 hybrid bill 'is likely to breach international law' by failing to give residents and others sufficient time to absorb its implications.
Stop 'white elephant' HS2 - Pictures and video from the rally here
Ralph Smyth, barrister and senior transport campaigner for the CPRE said: "A 56 day formal consultation period for 50,000 pages of documents means you would need to read to close to 1,000 pages a day just to know what is proposed.
"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."
Stop HS2 Campaign manager Joe Rukin added: "The Department for Transport has given a longer consultation period for an eight-page report into the tractor speeds than they have to HS2. It is disgraceful."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The consultation on the Environmental Statement will give members of the public and interested parties the opportunity to comment on the environmental impacts of the proposed scheme and on the proposed mitigation measures.
The spokesman insisted there had already been 'in excess of 18 months of consultation and engagement on the project'
The scheme would see 225mph trains running on a new line from London to Birmingham by 2026.
Around 500 campaigners protested outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday as the Bill was published before a series of meetings inside.