Guidance

Consultation and pre-decision matters

Sets out the process for efficient and inclusive consultation of planning applications

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version of the framework published in 2012 will continue to apply, as will any previous guidance which has been superseded since the new framework was published in July 2018. If you’d like an email alert when changes are made to planning guidance please subscribe.

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.
  • Any consultation required by a direction – where there are further, 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.

Paragraph: 001 Reference ID: 15-001-20190722

Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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).

Paragraph: 002 Reference ID: 15-002-20180615

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.

Paragraph: 003 Reference ID: 15-003-20140306

Revision date: 06 03 2014

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

Local planning 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 minimum statutory requirements for applications for planning permission. 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 guidance on plan-making.

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

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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.

To ensure comments are taken into account it is important to make comments before the statutory deadline.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Will the local planning authority take into account views received after the formal period for comments has closed?

Local planning authorities may, at their discretion, take into account comments that are made after the closing date (but have no obligation to do so).

Paragraph: 034 Reference ID: 15-034-20190723

Revision date 23 07 2019

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 each 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.

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.

Paragraph: 032 Reference ID: 15-032-20180615

Revision date: 15 06 2018

Why are consultees’ views important?

Paragraph deleted.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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 mimimum in each area is appropriate.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Statutory consultees

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

Planning law prescribes circumstances where local planning authorities are required to consult specified bodies prior to a decision being made on an application.

A list of statutory consultees on applications for planning permission is set out in Table 2.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

How should statutory consultees engage with the planning system?

Paragraph deleted.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Will a parish council or a Neighbourhood Forum be informed of planning applications in their area?

The circumstances in which local planning authorities must notify a parish council or a Neighbourhood Forum are set out in Schedule 1, paragraph 8, of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and article 25 and 25A of the Development Management Procedure Order

Where a parish council or Neighbourhood Forum is notified of a planning application, they must make any representations within 21 days.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

How can delays in the statutory consultation phase be avoided?

Early and timely engagement between developers, statutory consultees and local authorities at the pre-application phase is important in helping to address issues and opportunities early on and avoid delays occurring at the formal application stage.

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 response to consultations. It is important for local planning authorities to work closely with statutory consultees in preparing their local lists of information requirements.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Can statutory consultees charge for pre application advice?

In certain circumstances some statutory consultees may be able to charge a fee for their advice at the pre-application stage. Statutory consultees should be guided by their own legal advisers on their powers to charge.

To ensure transparency, where a statutory consultee has the power to charge for pre-application services, it is important 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 to the local planning authority at application stage. It is good practice to respond to such requests within no more than 21 days.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

When consulted in the circumstances set out in Article 22 of the Development Management Procedure Order, consultees are under a duty to provide a “substantive response” (as defined in that Article). Local planning authorities must provide such consultees with the information that will enable them to provide a substantive response.

The substantive response will need to 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: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

Where a “substantive response” is required, statutory consultees must provide it –

a) within the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which - (i) the document on which the views of consultees are sought, or (ii) where there are several documents and they are sent on different days, the day on which the last of those documents is received, or

b) such other period as may be agreed in writing between the consultee and consultor.

Article 22 of the Development Management Procedure Order

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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 will need to set out clearly and precisely what the additional information is and the reasons why it is required.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

Local planning authorities are expected to determine applications for planning permission, within a time period of 5, 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 the absence of their advice.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Is it possible for the statutory consultee to negotiate an extension to the deadline for representations?

It is important for statutory consultees to do all they can to meet the deadline for representations. It should not usually 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 will therefore need to 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: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

Article 23 of the Development Management Procedure Order provides that statutory consultees who are under a duty to provide a substantive response must provide an annual report on their performance in providing such responses within the 21 day period or longer agreed period, and a summary of the reasons why they failed to comply with the duty to respond within the relevant timescale.

The reports need to be sent to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government each year. Statutory consultees are encouraged to publish the reports on their websites.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

Safeguarding directions

What are 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.

Information on meteorological technical sites, and who to consult 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: 23 07 2019 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.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

When does the Secretary of State need to be consulted?

For certain types of development, local planning authorities are required to consult the Secretary of State before granting planning permission.

The circumstances where this is required are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Consultation) Direction 2009; the Town and Country Planning (Development Affecting Trunk Roads) Direction 2018; and the Town and Country Planning (safeguarded aerodromes, technical sites and military explosives storage areas) Direction 2002

Further information is provided in the guidance on determining an application.

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What happens if a local planning authority would like to give planning permission against the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) competent authority advice?

Where a local planning authority is minded to grant planning permission against the COMAH competent authority’s advice, it should give the Health and Safety Executive, Environment Agency or Office for Nuclear Regulation advance notice of that intention, and allow 21 days from that notice for the COMAH competent authority to give further consideration to the matter. This will enable the COMAH competent authority to consider whether to request the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government call-in the application. The Secretary of State exercises the power to call-in applications very selectively.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Non-statutory consultees

What other organisations will 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 will need to 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). An example of this is the Battlefield Trust in relation to any proposed development that may impact on a historical battlefield site.

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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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

Local planning authorities need to identify the particular types of development or areas in which non-statutory consultees have an interest, so that any 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 are expected to 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 will therefore need to 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?

Paragraph deleted.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Will further consultation take place after an application is amended?

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’.

Where an application has been amended it is up to the local planning authority to decide whether further publicity and consultation is necessary in the interests of fairness. In deciding what further steps may be required local planning authorities should consider whether, without re-consultation, any of those who were entitled to be consulted on the application would be deprived of the opportunity to make any representations that they may have wanted to make on the application as amended.

Where the local planning authority decides that it is necessary to re-consult a body which is under a duty to provide a substantive response the timescales in paragraph 011 will apply.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

A statutory or non-statutory consultee may recommend that a planning application be refused but cannot in most cases direct that this happens.

However, the effect of the Town and Country Planning (Development Affecting Trunk Roads) Direction 2018 is that if Highways England, having been consulted on a planning application under Schedule 4 of the Development Management Order 2015, makes a recommendation which the local planning authority does not intend to follow, the local planning authority must consult the Secretary of State and must determine the application in accordance with any Direction given within 21 days by the Secretary of State.

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. Several combined authorities also have similar powers.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

The 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 applications for planning permission and listed building consent

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 contains a list of statutory requirements to consult particular bodies or persons on applications for planning permission in prescribed circumstances. The table also includes links to planning guidance that encourages consultation with those bodies in other circumstances. This is not a definitive list. It does not necessarily include, for example, all the bodies which must be consulted as a consequence of a consultation direction.

Statutory consultee Type of development
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 for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 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; and paragraph 113 of guidance on minerals
[Relevant]Highways Authority (including 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
Lead local flood authority Schedule 4(ze) Development Management Procedure Order
Local Planning Authorities Schedule 4(b)(c), Article 19 and Article 24 Development Management Procedure Order, Paragraph 4(2) Schedule 1 and Paragraph 7 of Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Paragraph 3(b) of Schedule 4 to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
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
Office for Nuclear Regulation Schedule 4(f) Development Management Procedure Order and see also deciding planning applications around hazardous installations guidance
Oil and Gas Authority Article 26 Development Management Procedure Order
Parish Councils Article 25 Development Management Procedure Order and 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 and see also guidance on transport
Sport England Schedule 4(z) Development Management Procedure Order and see also guidance on open space, sports and recreation facilities
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

Paragraph: 030 Reference ID: 15-030-20190722

Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

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

Table deleted.

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Revision date: 23 07 2019 See previous version

Published 6 March 2014
Last updated 23 July 2019 + show all updates
  1. Amended paragraphs 001, 006, 009, 011-018, 026-028, 030 and 031; added new paragraph 034; deleted paragraphs 007 and 025.
  2. Amended paragraph 030.
  3. Amended paragraph 002. Added new paragraphs 032 and 033.
  4. Updated paragraphs 20, 29 and 30.
  5. First published.