ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING

SER Q&As

SER questions

1. How long is a SER valid for?
Under the legislation, a SER under Part 5 of the EP&A Act, and it's associated notifications, does not expire. However, as the environment and requirements can change between the time a SER is verified and construction commencing, a SER should be reviewed if 2 years have lapsed since verification and construction has not commenced. If 5 years have lapsed since verification and construction has not commenced, then the SER should be withdrawn and redone.

This is to ensure that any sensitive environmental issues including heritage items, contamination, threatened species, etc. have not changed. As a comparison, Development Applications approved by local council under Part 4 of the EP&A Act are generally valid between 2 and 5 years, depending on their conditions of approval.

It should also be noted that permits and approvals can have expiry dates. These should be checked where relevant.

2. Is a site visit mandatory for the assessor?
Yes. Any exceptions would need to be approved by Manager - Environmental Services and would only be granted in exceptional circumstances. We encourage the use of EF 17410 SER Site Inspection Checklist to ensure all the relevant issues are picked up during the site inspection, however it is not mandatory that this checklist be used during the Assessor’s inspection.

3. Can a large multi stage development be assessed under one SER before detailed designs are complete?
Yes, provided the scope of electricity works are adequately described in the SER. As a minimum the description should include locations for all substations and streets which will have 11kV/415V cabling. In addition, any easements, vegetation removal and access tracks works required for the electricity works should be clearly described. If there is some doubt over locations for assets, then mark a larger area to cover where these could be located.

The SER should include a plan showing locations of all of the above features with sufficient detail to enable an assessment of the impacts.

Where detailed locations for assets are not available then the worst case scenario will need to be assumed for the purpose of assessing impacts in the SER.

If new information comes to light after verifying the SER, then a new SER may be required (eg Aboriginal heritage identified).

A SER generally has an expiry period of 2 years.

Any subsequent electricity works which are inconsistent with the scope will require a separate SER.

4. Can the electricity works be assessed as part of a third party planning approval (eg developer DA or Transport for NSW)?
Yes, provided the scope of electricity works are adequately described in the planning approval. As a minimum the description should include locations for all substations and streets which will have 11kV/415V cabling. In addition, any easements, vegetation removal and access tracks works required for the electricity works should be clearly described. If there is some doubt over locations for assets, then mark a larger area to cover where these could be located.

In these cases written notification from the determining authority (eg TfNSW) or the developer that the electricity works are covered is required.

5. Does the SER need to assess works/impacts that are already covered by third party planning approval (eg the DA has approved clearing)?
No, however, any works/impacts outside the scope of what is approved by the development consent will need to be assessed. For example, the approval needs to include the footprint for the electricity works and associated easements/access tracks etc.) in terms of area and depth.  

The ASP must submit to Ausgrid the development approval that clearly shows the impacts that have been approved.

The SER should contain a condition that “No works are to commence until the site is cleared in accordance with Council’s development approval”.

6. Can I rely on qualified specialist assessments commissioned by the developer for the development (eg ecology, heritage, contaminated land etc.)?
Yes, if the footprint/impacts for the electricity works (and associated easements/access tracks etc.) in terms of area and depth are covered by the assessment.

The SER should include the consultant’s report and capture the associated conditions.

7. How do I avoid holding up a project?
Suggestions to avoid potential delays to work include:

  • start preparing the SER early to allow for the 40 days prior to scheduling
  • send an 'Assessed' but not 'Verified' SER to the contractor to allow for quoting etc.
  • send the notification letters earlier by sending a concept plan (note that the detailed design doesn't have to be completed before a notification letter is sent to council)
  • obtain all relevant environmental information from the developer regarding potential issues and constraints (eg AHIP, ecological assessments)

8. Investigations for the overall development identified Aboriginal heritage or threatened species. However these are not identified on Ausgrid's WebGIS EL report.  Do I need to consider these issues in the SER?

Yes. Any known information must be considered in the SER.

Notification Questions

9. Do we have to wait the 21/40 days to verify a SER?
Preferably the 21/40 day period should expire before verifying an SER. This ensures that all submissions have been received and given due consideration. However, it is acknowledged that circumstances will arise where this is not practical or even possible (examples could include urgent works to restore power). As a minimum, verifying an SER before the 21/40 day expiry would require:

  • a written response from the recipient stating that they do not intend to make any further submission; and
  • a justified reason why the 21/40 days notification cannot be achieved (poor planning is not a justification).

Exceptions to the above should be approved by Manager - Environmental Services.

10. Do I have to re-notify if the scope changes after consultation?
The scope of a project could change because of technical requirements or in response to submissions received during the notification period. Whether a re-notification is required will depend on the nature of the changes.

If the changes result in triggering a new notification requirement (such as new adjoining neighbours etc.) then additional notification is required.

If the changes result in a substantially different project or is likely to result in new objections then it would be prudent to re-notify relevant parties.

To help avoid a re-notification trigger and potential delays, concept plans submitted to Council should include a description of all potential works and may include options and a larger footprint impact area to allow for flexibility of design.

If in doubt, contact Environmental Services.

11. What works do not need a notification?

Although exempt development doesn't need the 21 days notice (as would otherwise be required by SEPP (Infrastructure) 2007), if the works are not routine maintenance and repairs, the project will still need 40 days notification under the Electricity Supply Act 1995.

Most urgent works should fall under the definition of emergency works or routine repairs or maintenance and will not require a SER or 21/40 days notification.

12. What templates should I use to notify?

See standard template letters.

13. What is meant by adjoining or adjacent?
Adjoining SEPP

 

TIBCO questions

14. I lost the email with the Verified SER. How do I obtain a copy?

Option 1: TIBCO FormCentre (Ausgrid employees only)

  1. Open up  TIBCO FormCentre.
  2. Click on ‘SER Verified’ under the reporting icon located at the top left of the screen.
  3. Search the archive through using the ‘Project Number’, ‘Assessor’, ‘Verifier’, ‘Location’, or ‘Date’ functions.
  4. Once you have located the SER, click on ‘View only SER’ in order to obtain a copy of the form.
  5. You can save this ‘Read Only’ document to file.

Option 2: Retrieve via email

You can obtain a 'Read Only' copy of a SER by emailing eforms@ausgrid.com.au with the Subject: Get project [Project Number].

Note, this option may not work if the project number includes spaces, special characters etc.

Option 3: Contact Environmental Services

Request a copy by emailing environmentalservices@ausgrid.com.au

15. As a verifier, why can’t I edit the SER and verify it?

If you have viewed the form by clicking on ‘View only SER’ in the SER Current database on TIBCO FormCentre, then you have accessed a ‘read only’ SER. You can only edit/verify the Assessed SER which was attached to the original email sent to the Assessor stating that the SER was registered. If this email cannot be found, please contact Environmental Services by emailing environmentalservices@ausgrid.com.au

16. How can I save an electronic copy of the SER form?

You can save an electronic copy of the SER both before and after submitting the form. In either case to save the SER, click on ‘File’ (located in the upper left hand corner on the toolbar) and then ‘Save As’. You can then save a copy of the form to the electronic folder of your choice.

17. I can not submit the SER into TIBCO, I am not getting an email back?

Your email signature may have an attached PDF that is preventing the submission of the SER.

Please submit the SER using a blank email with no email signature or internal text.

Attach the SER to the blank email with a subject heading “Click 'Send'. Do not change recipient. Make sure the second full stop is included in the subject heading. Send the email to eforms@ausgrid.com.au

If this does not resolve your issue, please contact Environmental Services by emailing environmentalservices@ausgrid.com.au

18. The SER form won't download using Chrome.

  • Right click your mouse on the link of the PDF you want to download and select 'Save Link as'.
  • Save to your local folder and then open the PDF from there.

19. The SER won't register in the Form Centre.

  • Character limit - each field in the SER form has a 4000 character limit. Going beyond the limit can prevent the form from registering in the Form Centre.
  • Project number - the project number must not include symbols such as '&'.

20. The verifier can't verify my SER.

Attachments - to avoid functionality issues during the verification process, attachments should be:

  • PDF documents
  • included by the assessor prior to the form being registered in the TIBCO FormCentre. If additional attachments are required, the SER will need to be pulled back, attachments added and the form re-registered

When changes are required prior to verification - changes to a SER prior to verification does not always require a pull back. The system is designed so that you can amend the assessed copy (excluding the project name, number, assessor details and attachments) and forward that amended version directly to the verifier. However problems can occur where an incorrect version of the form has been amended and provided to the verifier. The form centre will reject the form on verification as it is not the version sitting in the form centre.

21. I received a software error when completing the SER.

In some cases a software error can occur when completing the SER. This is because the user has clicked into another text box before code running in the background has finished. Whether this happens depends on a number of factors.

A way to prevent this from happening is to click somewhere on the form before clicking in the next text box.

If an error does happen, you can save, close and re-open the form.

22. I need to change the project name or number / add additional attachments / amend the assessor details.

The changes will require the SER to be pulled back and a new version submitted to the TIBCO FormCentre.

23. Accessibility on iPads and iPhones.

Adobe smart forms cannot be viewed on mobile devices unless printed to PDF. If saving a verified SER to a job, please use the ‘print to PDF’ function.