NPR/HS2 ideas from Merseytravel

The request was refused by Merseytravel.

Dear Merseytravel,

The following extracts appear in the Liverpool Echo

"Cllr Robinson explained that the NPR line would be “a new line from Liverpool from a station somewhere in the Lime Street area, going roughly parallel to the M62, and linking to the proposed HS2 network”.
The precise route of such a line is yet to be determined.

Cllr Robinson said: “Much of the route coming into the city would be via tunnels.”

Mr Rogers added: “We’ve got some ideas. The options are being worked on.

“But Lime Street is the correct location for a station for so many different reasons.”

I would like all the documents relating to this, especially the "ideas" for routes, including maps, and the location and specifications of this proposed Lime Street area terminus. Especially platform and train length and whether or not the station is envisaged as being underground, overground or surface.

Yours faithfully,

John Bradley

Henderson, Andrew, Merseytravel

Dear Mr Bradley


Thank you for your email, which has been received by Merseytravel.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 / Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me. Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards,

Andy Henderson

Senior Information Management Officer | Merseytravel | Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
Office: 0151 330 1679 | Email: [email address]

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

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Henderson, Andrew, Merseytravel

Dear Mr Bradley




Thank you for your recent request, which has been processed in accordance
with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. This is because any
potential new rail line or station would constitute a measure likely to
affect the environment, as defined in Regulation 2(1)(c).


Having consulted with colleagues, I have been informed that any
information in relation to prospective locations for a new station in
Liverpool has been produced by Transport for the North, rather than by
Merseytravel. This information is  subject to a non-disclosure agreement,
and Merseytravel must therefore give consideration to Regulation 12(5)(d)
as disclosure would adversely affect the confidentiality of the
proceedings of that or any other public authority where such
confidentiality is provided by law.


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidance on
Regulation 12(5)(d) at [1]this link
As stated on page 9 of the guidance, ‘the information thus obtained must
have the quality of confidence; this means it

must not be in the public domain already and it must be of importance to
the confider and not trivial. There must also be an expectation that it
would not be disclosed.’ The existence of the non-disclosure agreement
meets these conditions, and disclosure would be likely to adversely affect
the on-going work being undertaken by Merseytravel in relation to Northern
Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and HS2.


As with all exceptions under the Regulations, Merseytravel must consider
the public interest test, balancing the arguments for and against
disclosure of the requested information.


In terms of the argument in favour of disclosure, there is always a
general public interest in public bodies being transparent and
accountable. NPR and HS2 developments are of great importance and will
significantly impact the lives of Merseyside residents. Any works will
also involve the expenditure of large sums of public money, and there is a
need for public bodies to allow such decisions to be subject to a degree
of public scrutiny.


Conversely, the guidance states that


There is always a general public interest in protecting confidential
information. Breaching an obligation of confidence undermines the
relationship of trust between confider and confidant, regardless of
whether the

obligation is based on statute or common law. For this reason, the grounds
on which confidences can be breached are normally limited [p.12-13]


Breaching the non-disclosure agreement would be likely to cause
irreparable harm to the relationship between Merseytravel and Transport
for the North, leading to an understandable unwillingness for information
to be shared with Merseytravel on this or related projects due to fears
that the confidential nature of correspondence would not be respected.
This would significantly weaken Merseytravel’s ability to influence the
process and risks the needs and interests of local residents not being
fully recognised in future developments.


After considering both sides of the argument, I am of the opinion that the
public interest lays in withholding the information held in relation to a
prospective new rail station(s).


For the remainder of the information held, we must give consideration to
Regulation 12(4)(d) as the request relates to material which is still in
the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data.
The ICO has published guidance on this exception at [2]this link


While a particular document may itself be finished, it may be part of
material which is still in the course of completion. An example of this
could be where a public authority is formulating and developing policy. In
this case, an officer may create an ‘aide memoire’ note which is not
intended to be a formal record but is nevertheless part of the on-going
process of developing a particular policy. If this aide memoire note is
within the scope

of a request, the exception may be engaged because the request relates to
material which is still in the course of completion. The need for public
authorities to have a ‘thinking space’ for policy development was
recognised in the original proposal for the Directive on public access to
environmental information, which the EIR implement. [p.3-4]


Merseytravel is currently considering a number of options, and is yet to
finalise any proposals, meaning that the exception is engaged. We must,
again, consider the public interest test.


The public interest arguments in favour of disclosure are largely as
outlined above (for reasons of transparency and public accountability),
while a weighty factor in the argument for withholding the requested
information is the timing of the request and the progress of the work
itself. The guidance states that


[in] such cases the public authority may argue that it needs a ‘safe
space’ in which to do this away from public scrutiny, and that disclosing
this material would harm that safe space. This is an argument about
protecting the integrity of the decision making process. Whether it
carries any significant weight in the public interest test will depend
very much on the timing of the request. If the process of formulating
policy on the particular issue is still going on when the request is
received, it may be that disclosure of drafts and unfinished documents at
that stage would make it difficult to bring the process to a proper


Logistically, the NPR and HS2 work is extremely complex, and there is a
pressing need to ensure that it is carried out in the most thorough and
efficient manner possible. Releasing information at this stage would be
likely to give rise to land speculation (with potential land being
acquired by third parties with the intention of making it available for
works at a premium) and ‘planning blight’, where investors are dissuaded
from the regeneration of certain areas because they have been mentioned as
possible locations of interest. These factors would be likely to
jeopardise the viability of the project’s long term development, and for
these reasons the public interest in withholding the information outweighs
that for disclosure.


Any eventual developments would be subject to completion of a business
case, the availability of funding and any relevant consultation process.
Any settled plans will be publicised in due course.


I am sorry that we could not be of any further assistance on this


Andrew Henderson

Senior Information Management Officer | Merseytravel | Mann Island, PO Box
1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN

Office: 0151 330 1679 | Email: [email address]

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.




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