Information on the procedure for consulting DAERA on an application for planning permission

Issuing a consultation 

Please note this now includes a specific section for the Natural Environment Division (NED)

1. Issuing a consultation to DAERA

To enable DAERA to provide a substantive response to a planning consultation the planning authority must:

  • provide clear and specific reasons for consultation
  • include a full package of all information in support of the application in the first instance
  • 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
  • if DAERA has an active consultation for the planning application. If an active consultation exists - please see section on 'submission of additional information'
  • clearly identify and title all 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

2. Issuing a consultation to the Natural Environment          Division (NED)

In addition to the guidance above the planning authority must:

  • include a full package of all information in support of the appliication in the first instance - please see link to Consultation Checklist. This checklist is aimed specifically at development types in the local hierarchy
  • note the requirements of the Biodiversity Checklist .  Where ‘Yes’ has been ticked anywhere in sections 1 & 2, advice must be sought from an ecologist or other suitably qualified person to carry out an evaluation of the proposed development and who can then advise on the level of assessment or type of survey required
  • Please do not consult with us until all ecological surveys have been completed.  If you consult with us before all surveys are complete, a substantive response cannot be provided
  • If you need to reconsult with us, this will lead to a delays.  The consultation will be processed as ‘business as usual’ and will not be inserted at the top of the work queue. 
  • be aware of survey season windows –Standing advice can be found at: Standing advice for development of land that may affect Natural Heritage Interests.  Survey specifications can be found at: Site Surveys .  If you submit a consultation without the full package of surveys (where indicated) this will cause delays which may be up to one year, depending on the survey season window

Submission of additional information

When a planning authority wishes to submit additional information please note that:

  • If a planning authority wishes to submit additional information that it has received during the consultation process, the case officer should contact Planning Response Team at 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 very 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 we have started to draft our response, if it is nearing completion or if it 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.

Please note that when reconsulting with NED, the new consultation will be processed as 'business as usual' and will not be inserted at the top of the work queue.

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.

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