Issuing a consultation
To enable DAERA to provide a substantive response to a planning consultation the planning authority should:
- provide clear and specific reasons for consultation
- withhold issuing a consultation until all information is available. If information is provided over more than one day, the 21 calendar day consultation period starts on the last day all necessary information is received by DAERA
- clearly identify documentation on the planning portal
- provide contact details for the planning case officer - always quote the planning reference, identify the case officer and a direct dial number for consultee use
Submission of additional information
When a planning authority wishes to submit additional information which it has received during the consultation process, the case officer should contact Planning Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how this can be incorporated. When agreed, the additional information must be uploaded to the planning portal so that it is accessible and transparent. If a document is sensitive and cannot be placed in the public domain it should be e-mailed or posted directly to the Planning Response Team.
If we are in the early stages of preparing our response, it may be appropriate for us to respond to the additional information as part of the initial consultation.
If our response is nearing completion or has already been uploaded to the planning portal, it will be necessary for the planning authority to wait and accept the response to the current consultation. When complete, the planning authority may then issue a new consultation in relation to the additional information they wish to be considered.
Requests for extensions to the consultation period
For certain statutory consultations, DAERA may request an extension to the consultation response time. An extension request will usually be made within 5 working days of receipt of the consultation. We will issue an Interim Response via the planning portal and notify the planning case officer by e-mail. We ask that the planning case officer agrees or rejects the extension request within 2 working days of receipt. Where extensions are agreed, the case officer should amend the target response date on the planning portal.
In exceptional cases, the need for more time may only become apparent during detailed consideration of submitted information and discussion with the applicant and planning case officer. In these circumstances we will contact the planning authority to agree an approach, including timescales, before requesting an extension.
All extension requests will state one of the following reasons:
- Complex Case - the consultation relates to a large, or environmentally sensitive proposal, or has a large quantity of associated documentation
- Resources - staff pressures arising from office closures over holiday periods (i.e. Christmas, Easter etc) or staff are redirected to other work areas in an emergency situation
- IT issues - two or more consecutive days downtime of the Planning Portal or in-house IT systems or services
Our consultation responses
Our responses are informed by the data held by DAERA within our areas of responsibility. We do not generally undertake site visits or carry out surveys unless they are required to confirm our advice or inform our comments.
The level of advice and information included in our consultation responses depends on the:
- stage in the planning process
- environmental risks the planning application could create
- opportunities to improve the site and surrounding environment
- detail of information in the planning application
In some cases, the planning authority or the applicant may need to do further surveys or assessments before DAERA can provide advice. Planning authorities must ensure that they have provided enough detail about the proposal and the impacts it may have on the environment for us to provide the appropriate advice.
Please note, in the absence of DAERA comment, no inference can be made on DAERA’s position with regard to environmental impacts. It is the responsibility of the planning authority to ensure that all risks to the environment and environmental legislation requirements have been considered
Consultation response times
For statutory consultations under the GDPO we will respond within 21calendar days of the consultation being initiated or within agreed timescales, provided we have received all information needed to provide a substantive response.
For EIA development, where the initial consultation is accompanied by an Environmental Statement, we would normally require an extended consultation period due to the complex nature of the proposal and accompanying information. Where an extension is required we will make our request before the initial 30 day period expires.
For non-statutory consultations we endeavour to respond within 21 calendar days, or other specified timescale as agreed, provided we have received all the information required to give an informed response. We will contact you at an early stage to confirm when you can expect our response which will be dependent on the nature, scale and complexity of the proposed scheme.