Development referral agency
For some types of developments, you need to apply for a development permit and consult with a Referral Agency who can give recommendations and advice on the conditions of an application.
This means we may ask an applicant for more details on the development, and/or request Council to impose conditions of approval on a development application. In rare cases, we may recommend refusal of an application.
If your planned development is located near to powerlines and/or a substation it is vital that it doesn’t pose any risk to the safe operation of the network, or the safety of the community. Unmanaged development around electrical infrastructure can result in injury or loss of life.
Types of development we are a Referral Agency for
We will be triggered as a Referral Agency in the following situations:
- Reconfiguring a lot, if any part of the lot is subject to one of our easements and/or located within 100 metres of a substation site
- Material change of use of premises, if any part of the premises is subject to one of our easements and/or is situated within 100 metres of one of our substation sites
- Operational work (filling or excavation) at premises, if any part of the premises is subject to one of our easements and the work is located completely or partly within the easement and/or the work is located completely or partly within 10 metres of a substation site.
For a full list of referral triggers, please see Schedule 10 of the Planning Regulation 2017. And, for more information about working safely near powerlines, please see our powerlines safety information.
Have a question? If you’d like to make an enquiry regarding electricity infrastructure (e.g. easements and substations) referral requirements, please complete our referral enquiry form. Please allow five business days for our response.
How to refer a development application
If your development application requires referral to us, please send the development application documentation to:
GPO Box 1461
Brisbane QLD 4001
Alternatively you can email us at email@example.com (only recommended for files under 10MB).
What developments need to be referred?
Developments on land affected by easements that are in our name, or our predecessor companies (see list under ‘How do you find out if there's an easement over your property?’ below), will need to be referred to us if triggered in accordance with Schedule 10 of the Planning Regulation 2017.
Developments on land within 100 metres of bulk supply substations and zone substations require referral. Operational works (excavation and filling) within 10 metres of substation sites must also be referred.
What developments do not need to be referred?
You don’t need to refer development applications near our low voltage transformers and service pillars. Low voltage transformers receive 11 kV supply from zone substations and transform electricity to lower voltages suitable for residential, commercial and industrial uses. Service pillars represent a physical point of connection for customer to the network.
The images below show the general scale of transformers (which can be either pad or pole mounted) as well as service pillars in our network.
What are electricity easements?
Electricity easements are corridors of land that allow us clear access at any time to construct, operate, inspect, maintain and repair our powerlines and other network infrastructure. They also keep powerlines at a safe distance from other land uses and structures.
Landowners still own the land used for an easement, however they are restricted in how they can use and develop it.
How do you find out if there's an easement over your property?
You can find out if there is an easement over a property by doing a title search at the Queensland Government’s Titles Office.
Sometimes there may be powerlines and other network assets on privately owned property but no easement. While there’s no need for formal referral in these cases, you should still consider our electricity infrastructure and where it is on the property to ensure the development complies with all safety requirements, as outlined in the Electrical Safety Act 2002 or Electrical Safety Regulation 2013.
Our current easements include those held by the regional Queensland electricity distribution companies that were amalgamated in 1999 to form Ergon Energy. These are –
- Far North Queensland Electricity Board (FNQEB)
- North Queensland Electricity Board (NORQEB)
- Mackay Electricity Board (MEB)
- Capricornia Electricity (CAPELEC)
- Wide Bay-Burnett Electricity Board (WBBEC)
- South West Queensland Electricity Board (South West Power).
What are substation sites?
A bulk supply or zone substation distributes high voltage electricity throughout the network. Substation sites don’t include pole mounted substations, transformers or voltage regulators, or pad mounted substations or transformers.
Bulk supply substations and zone substations require referral for planning and development activities.
The below images show the general scale and characteristics of a bulk supply or zone substation within our network.
What is the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA)?
SARA is an agency of the State Government which delivers a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to the state’s assessment of development applications. SARA may be either the assessment manager or a Referral Agency for development applications where the state has a jurisdiction. However referrals are often also required for other agencies, including us. For example, an applicant may need to refer a development application to both the SARA and to us.
Under the Planning Regulation 2017, we are triggered as a Referral Agency for a development that would potentially affect the operation of the electricity distribution network.
For more information, refer to our Development Referral Fact Sheet (PDF 466.5 kb).
Protecting land subject to an Infrastructure Designation
Infrastructure Designation is a Queensland Government planning approval process that seeks the approval of the Planning Minister to identify land for community infrastructure (including network infrastructure), such as a new powerline or substation. It's important to protect land that is subject to an Infrastructure Designation.
Where a Development Application is affected by an Infrastructure Designation, it is referred to the State Assessment Referral Agency (SARA), who is then responsible for providing a response to the applicant. SARA may also require information or involvement from us where appropriate in the planning process, and prior to providing a response.
Incompatible development can make land unsuitable for the purposes it was designated for. It can also place additional cost on the community should buildings need to be moved later (e.g. residential buildings within an easement for a future powerline are not appropriate).
When an Infrastructure Designation is involved, SARA is the only assessing referral authority required. However, we are often called upon to provide SARA with any technical input. We are happy to receive pre-lodgement enquiries from development applicants to help resolve issues before lodgement. You can email us as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fact sheets for developments near electricity assets
Please read the following fact sheets if you are proposing a development near electricity infrastructure. They highlight important things for you to consider.
|Acoustic Amenity (noise) (PDF File, 788.8 KB)||7 Feb 2019|
|Development Adjoining a Substation Standard Requirements (PDF File, 908.3 KB)||21 Apr 2021|
|Infrastructure Designations (PDF File, 566.6 KB)||7 Feb 2019|
|Operational Works in an Easement - Overhead (PDF File, 830.2 KB)||7 Feb 2019|
|Operational Works in an Easement - Underground (PDF File, 610.3 KB)||7 Feb 2019|
|Operational Works near a Substation (PDF File, 688.4 KB)||7 Feb 2019|
|Reconfiguration of a Lot subject to an Easement (PDF File, 829.8 KB)||7 Feb 2019|
|Stormwater Infrastructure in Overhead Electricity Easements (PDF File, 558.5 KB)||3 Jun 2019|
|Visual Amenity (PDF File, 790.2 KB)||7 Feb 2019|