It is good practice to advise the applicant the consent application has been formally accepted and that processing has commenced as soon as possible and no later than ten working days after lodgement. This should be in writing and include the date on which the application was lodged and the date that it was formally accepted for processing. Note that the statutory clock begins ticking from the first full day after the information enters the local authority building. This may not be the day it is received by the councils consent department.
The letter could also inform the applicant of the process from this point, in particular stating the difference in processing times between a fast-track application or an application that is publicly notified, limited notified and non-notified. This letter could also advise the applicant that:
further information may be required and that the processing clock will stop for the first request (if it is made prior to the notification decision)
- council may decide to commission a report on any matter relating to an activity which the council considers may have a significant adverse environmental effect
- if a further information request or request to commission a report is ignored or refused then the application may be publicly notified
- when additional fees may be charged and how this will be calculated
- in the event of the application not being processed within statutory time frames, what discount on administrative charges will be given
- if the application is notified, a request for the application to be directly referred to the Environment Court can be made from the date the application is lodged up to five working days after submissions close. The process and time frames for the council decision on such a request should also be outlined.
Finally, it is helpful to give the applicant a council contact name and contact details (phone number and email address) should there be any questions. Where possible, the contact details provided should be of the council officer processing the application.