Guidance

Consultation and pre-decision matters

Sets out process and expectations on consultation of planning applications.

Planning practice guidance will, where necessary, be updated in due course to reflect changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (the new version of which was published in July 2018). Where any hyperlinks direct users to the previous National Planning Policy Framework (2012), please disregard these. If you’d like an email alert when changes are made to planning guidance please subscribe.

Where plans are being prepared under the transitional arrangements set out in Annex 1 to the revised National Planning Policy Framework, the policies in the previous version of the framework published in 2012 will continue to apply, as will any previous guidance which has been superseded since the new framework was published in July 2018.

What local planning authority consultation takes place before a planning application is decided, and with who?

After a local planning authority has received a planning application, it will undertake a period of consultation where views on the proposed development can be expressed. The formal consultation period will normally last for 21 days, and the local planning authority will identify and consult a number of different groups.

The main types of local planning authority consultation are:

  • Public consultation – including consultation with neighbouring residents and community groups.
  • Statutory consultees – where there is a requirement set out in law to consult a specific body, who are then under a duty to respond providing advice on the proposal in question.
  • Any consultation required by a direction – where there are further, locally specific, statutory consultation requirements as set out in a consultation direction.
  • Non statutory consultees where there are planning policy reasons to engage other consultees who – whilst not designated in law – are likely to have an interest in a proposed development.

Following the initial period of consultation, it may be that further additional consultation on changes submitted by an applicant, prior to any decision being made, is considered necessary.

Finally, once consultation has concluded, the local planning authority will consider the representations made by consultees, and proceed to decide the application. See more information on the role that consultees’ views play in making a decision.

Local planning authority consultation does not remove or affect the requirement for the applicant to complete and submit an ownership certificate and agricultural land declaration with an application for planning permission.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Public consultation

What steps must the local planning authority take to involve members of the public on planning applications?

Local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation, prior to deciding a planning application. This is prescribed in article 15 of the Development Management Procedure Order (as amended). There are separate arrangements for applications for permission in principle which are set out in Article 5G of the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 (as amended); for listed buildings which are set out in regulation 5 and regulation 5A of the Listed Buildings and Conservation Area Regulations 1990 (as amended) and for applications for prior approval for development which is subject to permitted development rights which are set out in Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).

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Revision date: 15 06 2018 See previous version

Who is eligible to respond to a consultation?

Anyone can respond to a planning consultation. In addition to individuals who might be directly affected by a planning application, community groups and specific interest groups (national as well as local in some cases) may wish to provide representations on planning applications.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What publicity will take place to let the public know that a planning application has been submitted?

Local Authorities have discretion about how they inform communities and other interested parties about planning applications. Article 15 of the Development Management Procedure Order sets out out minimum statutory requirements. These are summarised in Table 1.

In addition, local authorities may set out more detail on how they will consult the community on planning applications in their Statement of Community Involvement, prepared under section 18 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. See also the Local Plans guidance.

Publishing information online in an open data format can help facilitate engagement with the public on planning applications.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What is the time period for making comments?

The time period for making comments will be set out in the publicity accompanying the planning application. This will be not less than 21 days, or 14 days where a notice is published in a newspaper.

Once the consultation period has concluded a local planning authority can proceed to determine the planning application. To ensure comments are taken in to account it is important to make comments before the statutory deadline.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

When must local planning authorities add additional days to consultation periods because of public holidays?

In prescribed circumstances local planning authorities must extend periods of public consultation by one day for public holiday that occurs during the public consultation period.

In this context ‘public holiday’ means Christmas Day, Good Friday, or a day which is a bank holiday in England.

Local planning authorities may not determine the application before the public consultation period allowed for representations to be made has expired.

The circumstances where local planning authorities must add an additional day for each public holiday which occurs during the public consultation period are set out in the table below. (The Town and Country Planning (Local Authority Consultations etc.) (England) Order 2018.)

However local planning authorities retain discretion to extend consultation periods where they consider it appropriate. This includes being able to add additional days when public holidays occur in circumstances that are not listed in the table.

Table: Statutory provisions requiring local planning authorities to add an additional day for publicity of applications for each public holiday that occurs during a public consultation period

Statutory provisions Description
The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 - Articles 15, 33 and 34 and Schedule 3 (as amended) Applications for planning permission under Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (which includes applications for outline planning permission and technical details consent) but the requirement does not apply in the case of any EIA application accompanied by an environmental statement.
The Town and Country Planning (Section 62A Applications) (Procedure and Consequential Amendments) Order 2013 - Articles 14 and 38 and Schedule 2 (as amended) Publicity by local planning authorities of relevant applications made to the Secretary of State under Section 62A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 except in the case of an application in respect of EIA development which is accompanied by an environmental statement. Publicity by local planning authorities of ‘connected listed building applications’ made to the Secretary of State under Section 62A of the Town and Country Planning Act - see definition of connected listed building application.
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Regulations 1990 - Regulation 5, 5A, 13 (as amended) Advertisement by local planning authorities of applications for listed building consent. Publicity by local planning authorities for applications for planning permission affecting setting of listed buildings. Publicity by local planning authorities of applications by them to the Secretary of State relating to the execution of works for the demolition, alteration or extension of listed buildings.
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 - Schedule 2 (as amended) Publicity by the local planning authority of proposed development which is subject to certain permitted development rights and for which an application is required for the local planning authority’s prior approval or for a determination as to whether such prior approval is required.
The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 - Article 5G, 5R, 5S and Schedule 2 (as amended) Publicity by local planning authorities of applications for permission in principle.

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Will the parish council be informed of the planning application?

If the parish council has notified the local planning authority in question that it wishes to be consulted, yes.

The Development Management Procedure Order also sets out a legal requirement for local planning authorities to notify parish councils of the decision on planning applications within the parish council area, where the parish council have requested that they do so. Both requirements are set out in article 25 of the Development Management Procedure Order.

Where a parish council is consulted on a planning application, they should respond within the 21 day consultation period.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Why are consultees’ views important?

It is important that local planning authorities identify and consider all relevant planning issues associated with a proposed development. Consultees may be able to offer particular insights or detailed information which is relevant to the consideration of the application. Further information on the type of issues local authorities consider when making a decision is set out in the guidance on ‘determining an application’.

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What happens where an application is on land falling within two (or more) local authorities?

Where an application straddles the boundaries of two or more local planning authorities, publicity should be undertaken separately in each local planning authority area. The authorities will need to agree between themselves whether publicity beyond the statutory minimum in each area is appropriate.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Statutory consultees

Who are the statutory consultees and why have they been designated?

Planning law prescribes circumstances where consultation must take place between a local planning authority and certain organisations, prior to a decision being made on an application. The organisations in question are under a duty to respond to the local planning authority within a set deadline and must provide a substantive response to the application in question.

A list of the statutory consultees is set out in Table 2.

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How should statutory consultees engage with the planning system?

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that statutory consultees should provide advice in a timely manner throughout the development process. This assists local planning authorities in issuing timely decisions, helping to ensure that applicants do not experience unnecessary delays and costs.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

How long do statutory consultees have to respond to a consultation?

Where statutory consultation is required, statutory consultees are under a duty to respond to consultations within 21 days (article 22 of the Development Management Procedure Order), or such longer period as may be specified in other legislation. The 21 day period does not begin until the statutory consultee in question has such information as will enable it to provide a substantive response.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What happens where a statutory consultee considers that it does not have the information it needs to provide a substantive response?

It is important for statutory consultees to inform the local planning authority without delay if they require additional information, and that they have procedures in place to enable this to occur as soon as possible after they receive a consultation. It is not acceptable for a statutory consultee to wait until the 21 day period would otherwise have come to a close to notify the local planning authority that it believes it does not have enough information to provide a substantive response.

Where a statutory consultee requests additional information it needs to set out clearly and precisely what the additional information is, and the reasons why it is required. As with local planning authorities, statutory consultees may only request information that is relevant, necessary and material to the application in question.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

How can delays in the statutory consultation phase be avoided?

Statutory consultees need to provide clear, positive and transparent information to both local planning authorities and applicants about the information they require to provide a substantive response to consultations. It is important for local planning authorities to work closely with statutory consultees in preparing their local lists of information requirements.

Early and timely engagement between developers, statutory consultees and local authorities at the pre application phase is important in helping avoid delays occurring at the formal application stage.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Can statutory consultees charge for pre application advice?

Where a prospective development raises complex issues some statutory consultees are legally able to charge a fee for an enhanced level of service at the pre-application stage, some are not.

To ensure transparency, where a statutory consultee opts to charge for certain pre-application services, it is strongly encouraged to provide information online about:

  • the scale of charges for pre-application services applicable to different types of application (minor/major and other);
  • the level of service that will be provided for the charge, including:
    • the scope of work and what is included (eg duration and number of meetings or site visits);
    • the amount of officer time;
    • the outputs (eg a letter or report); and
    • the guaranteed response times.

Statutory consultees should not charge for a pre-application request to advise on the likely scope of information necessary to enable them to provide a substantive response at application stage, and should respond to such requests within no more than 21 days.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What should local planning authorities expect from a statutory consultee in terms of a response?

The legal definition of a substantive response is prescribed in article 22 of the Development Management Procedure Orderr. The substantive response should include reasons for the consultee’s views so that where these views have informed a subsequent decision made by a local planning authority the decision is transparent. A holding reply would not be acceptable as a substantive response.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What happens where a statutory consultee is unable to meet the deadlines for responding?

Local planning authorities are expected to determine planning applications within a time period of 8, 13 or 16 weeks (depending on the type of development). Statutory consultees should be aware of the risk that, should they fail to respond within a specified time period, a local planning authority may proceed to decide the application in absence of their advice.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Is it possible for the statutory consultee to negotiate an extension to the 21 day deadline in the Development Management Procedure Order?

Statutory consultees should do all they can to meet the 21 day deadline in the Development Management Order. It should rarely be necessary for an extension to be proposed.

Extensions of time which are negotiated between the statutory consultee and the local planning authority will not affect the applicant’s right to appeal against non-determination. In considering whether to agree to any proposed extension, local planning authorities should therefore consider the views of the applicant and the likely impact on the overall time taken to reach a decision.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Are statutory consultees accountable for their performance as a consultee on planning applications?

Yes. Article 23 of the Development Management Procedure Order provides that statutory consultees should provide reports on their performance in meeting the 21 day deadline in the order. It would be helpful if these reports also identify the number of instances where negotiated extensions to the 21 day deadline are agreed with the local planning authorities concerned.

The reports should be sent to the Department for Communities and Local Government each year, and published on the statutory consultee’s website.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Are other local authorities statutory consultees?

In certain cases there are specific requirements to consult other local authorities. More information about other local authorities’ role as statutory consultees is set out in Table 2.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Consultation and safeguarding directions

What are consultation and safeguarding directions?

The Development Management Procedure Order includes powers for the Secretary of State to direct local planning authorities that additional consultation must take place in specific local circumstances. This process is referred to as a ‘consultation direction’.

A consultation direction may be issued in relation to areas, sites and routes which are typically of more than local importance, or to allow the further consideration of proposals in the vicinity of existing facilities (such as airports).

Safeguarding directions are a specific type of consultation direction, and typically set out detailed maps of areas (for example, those around some existing facilities, such as certain airports or in relation to proposed infrastructure) where statutory consultation is required on planning applications within their area. Further detailed guidance on safeguarding aerodromes, technical sites and military explosives storage areas is provided in: ‘The Town and Country Planning (Safeguarded Aerodromes, Technical Sites and Military Explosives Storage Areas) Direction 2002’. Detailed guidance on mineral’s safeguarding is provided in the Minerals guidance.

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Revision date: 28 07 2017 See previous version

Where is information kept regarding consultation directions?

The relevant local planning authority will be able to advise applicants of any consultation directions that might affect planning proposals within its area.

Information on meteorological technical sites, and who to contact where a proposed development may affect such a site, can be found in the Town and Country Planning (Safeguarding Meteorological Sites) (England) Direction 2014.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Other organisations (non-statutory consultees)

What other organisations should local planning authorities engage with as part of the planning application process?

In addition to the statutory consultees set out in table 2 below, local planning authorities should also consider whether there are planning policy reasons to engage other consultees who – whilst not designated in law – are likely to have an interest in a proposed development (non-statutory consultees). A list of the organisations identified in national policy and guidance is set out in table 3.

To help applicants develop their proposals, local planning authorities are encouraged to produce and publish a locally specific list of non-statutory consultees.

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How should local planning authorities engage with non-statutory consultees?

Local planning authorities should engage with non-statutory consultees to identify clearly the types of developments within the local area in which they have an interest, so that any formal consultation can be directed appropriately and unnecessary consultation avoided.

To ensure consultations are received promptly it is helpful to for applicants and local planning authorities to agree the most cost and time effective system of notification on individual applications.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

How long do non-statutory consultees have to respond to a planning application?

Non-statutory consultees should respond within the period specified by the local planning authority. Where, exceptionally, additional time is required it is important to notify the local planning authority as soon as possible. It will be for the local planning authority to decide if further time is allowed. Extensions of time which are negotiated between non-statutory consultees and the local planning authority will not affect the applicant’s right to appeal against non-determination. In considering whether to agree an extension to specified deadline, local authorities should therefore consider the views of the applicant, and the likely impact on the overall time taken to reach a decision.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Re-consultation after an application has been amended

Can an application be amended after it has been submitted?

An application can be amended after it has been submitted. Guidance on the procedures involved in doing so is set out in ‘making an application’.

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Will further consultation take place after an application is amended?

Where an application has been amended it is up to the local planning authority to decide whether further publicity and consultation is necessary. In deciding whether this is necessary the following considerations may be relevant:

  • were objections or reservations raised in the original consultation stage substantial and, in the view of the local planning authority, enough to justify further publicity?
  • are the proposed changes significant?
  • did earlier views cover the issues raised by the proposed changes?
  • are the issues raised by the proposed changes likely to be of concern to parties not previously notified?

Where the local planning authority has decided that re-consultation is necessary, it is open to them to set the timeframe for responses, balancing the need for consultees to be given time to consider the issue that is being re-consulted upon and respond against the need for efficient decision making.

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Is it possible for a statutory or non-statutory consultee to direct refusal of an application?

It is possible for a statutory or non-statutory consultee to recommend to the local planning authority that a planning application should be refused in their view. It is not possible for a statutory or non-statutory consultee to direct refusal and insist that a planning application is refused by the local planning authority.

However, in exceptional circumstances the Secretary of State for Transport, through the Highways Agency, may use powers in the Development Management Procedure Order to restrict the grant of planning permission or direct that certain conditions are placed on any decision. This occurs when the Secretary of State considers that the development as proposed would, if approved, result in an unacceptable impact on the strategic road network, or pose substantial risks to public safety.

In addition, article 6 of the Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 sets out a power for the Mayor of London to direct refusal of a planning application in certain instances.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Can a local planning authority grant planning permission against the advice of a statutory or non-statutory consultee?

The decision to grant or refuse a planning application ultimately rests with the local planning authority taking in to account all relevant planning considerations, and not just the advice from one consultee. Local Authorities should be aware of the need to be able to justify a decision taken, including where it is contrary to a statutory consultee’s view.

The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) Direction 2009 sets out circumstances where local planning authorities must consult the Secretary of State prior to granting planning permission, where certain statutory consultees have objected to a proposed development.

Further guidance on the direction is provided in the guidance on determining an application. Specific guidance on this process where the Health and Safety Executive have advised against granting planning permission is set out in Hazardous Substances.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Can a local planning authority impose a pre-commencement planning condition required by a statutory consultee without the agreement of the applicant?

From 1 October 2018 written agreement of the applicant is required for all pre-commencement conditions, except in the circumstances set out in the Town and Country Planning (Pre-commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018.

In the unlikely event that an applicant refuses to accept a necessary pre-commencement condition proposed by a local planning authority, the authority can refuse planning permission. This will maintain appropriate protections for important matters such as heritage, the natural environment, green spaces, and measures to mitigate the risk of flooding.

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Table 1 – Statutory publicity requirements for planning and heritage applications

Type of development Site notice Site notice or neighbour notification letter Newspaper advertisement Website
Applications for major development as defined in Article 2 of the Development Management Procedure Order (which are not covered in any other entry) - X X X
Applications subject to Environmental Impact Assessment which are accompanied by an environmental statement X - X X
Applications which do not accord with the development plan in force in the area X - X X
Applications which would affect a right of way to which Part 3 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 applies X - X X
Applications for planning permission not covered in the entries above eg non-major development - X - X
Applications for listed building consent where works to the exterior of the building are proposed X - X X
Applications to vary or discharge conditions attached to a listed building consent or involving exterior works to a listed building. X - X X
Applications for development which would affect the setting of a listed building, or affect the character or appearance of a conservation area. X - X X

Note: the Environment Impact Assessment guidance sets out further publicity and consultation requirements for applicants where this is relevant.

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Revision date: 28 07 2017 see previous version

Table 2 – Statutory consultees on applications for planning permission

The table below lists where there is a statutory requirement to consult particular bodies or persons on planning applications for certain types of development.

Statutory consultee Type of development
Adjoining landowners Article 15 Development Management Procedure Order
Canal and River Trust Schedule 4(za) Development Management Procedure Order
Coal Authority Article 26 and Schedule 4(o) Development Management Procedure Order
Control of major-accident hazards competent authority (COMAH) Schedule 4(zb) Development Management Procedure Order
County Planning Authorities Paragraph 7 of Schedule 1 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Article 21 Development Management Procedure Order and Schedule 4(b)(c) Development Management Procedure Order
Crown Estates Commissioners Article 26 Development Management Procedure Order
Department of Energy and Climate Change Article 26 Development Management Procedure Order
Designated Neighbourhood Forum Paragraph 8A inserted into Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Article 25A and paragraph (d) of Schedule 4 of the Development Management Procedure Order 2015
Environment Agency Schedule 4(p)(t)(u) (v)(zc)(zd) Development Management Procedure Order
Forestry Commission Paragraph 4 of Schedule 5 of Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Garden History Society Schedule 4(s) Development Management Procedure Order and see also guidance on conserving and enhancing the historic environment
Greater London Authority Mayor of London Order 2008 (as amended)
Health and Safety Executive Schedule 4(e) Development Management Procedure Order, see also guidance on hazardous substances and advice for local planning authorities on consulting Health and Safety Executive on planning applications
Highways Authority Schedule 4(g)(h)(i)(k)(l)(m)(n) Development Management Procedure Order
Highways England Schedule 4(g)(h)(i) Development Management Procedure Order
Historic England Schedule 4(g)(r)(s) Development Management Procedure Order and see also guidance on conserving and enhancing the historic environment
Local Highway Authority Schedule 4(k)(l)(m)(n) Development Management Procedure Order
Local Planning Authorities Schedule 4(b)(c) Development Management Procedure Order
National Parks Authorities Schedule 4(a) Development Management Procedure Order
Natural England Schedule 4(w)(y)(zb) Development Management Procedure Order and Paragraph 4 of Schedule 5 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Parish Councils Schedule 4(d) Development Management Procedure Order
Rail Infrastructure Managers Article 16 Development Management Procedure Order
Rail Network Operators Schedule 4(j) Development Management Procedure Order
Sport England Schedule 4(z) Development Management Procedure Order
Theatres Trust Schedule 4(x) Development Management Procedure Order
Toll Road Concessionaries Schedule 4(m) Development Management Procedure Order
Water and sewerage undertakers Schedule 4(zf) Development Management Procedure Order

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Revision date: 28 07 2017 See previous version

Table 3 – Non-statutory consultees – identified in national planning policy and guidance

Non-statutory consultee Type of development
Emergency Services and Multi-Agency Emergency Planning See guidance on flooding and coastal change
Forestry Commission See guidance on the natural environment
Health and Safety Executive See deciding planning applications around hazardous installations guidance and paragraph 113 of guidance on minerals
Ministry of Defence See guidance on renewable and low carbon energy
Office of Nuclear Regulation See deciding planning applications around hazardous installations guidance
Police and Crime Commissioners See guidance on design
Rail Network Operators See guidance on transport
Sport England See guidance on open space, sports and recreation facilities
Business Improvement Districts Designated under The Business Improvement Districts (England) Regulations 2004

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Published 6 March 2014
Last updated 15 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Amended paragraph 002. Added new paragraphs 032 and 033.
  2. Updated paragraphs 20, 29 and 30.
  3. First published.