Driveway charge points may be worth taking a punt on.

We at Newton Property are receiving some interesting enquiries from customers who have seen how we are dealing with vehicle charging points in flatted developments, seeking advice on their installation at house in developments where we typically help maintain the common areas.

Demand for electric vehicles is rising. Housing developers are recognising this quickly developing situation and most new housing, in addition to the installation of solar panels, is being pre-configured to enable a vehicle charging unit to be fitted close to the driveway.

Demand for alternative fuel vehicles such as plug-in hybrids or electric cars is growing with the UK car industry reporting a 26.3% increase in purchases between 2018-2019.

The Herald:

Switched-on homeowners are unlikely to be distracted by the campaigns of some car manufacturers for “self -charging hybrids” which, unlike true electric cars, still use fossil fuels for their primary power generation. Such savvy homeowners can help both the environment and their pockets by charging their cars from the mains. Home fast-chargers come installed at approximately £800. After OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) and cashback grants this reduces to around £50 to £100 but you must already have an electric car to qualify. You can consider the cost as an investment in the value of your property, but it is very much a chicken or egg situation.

Demand for homes which have “plug and play” charging units already installed is only going to rise.

Scottish Power’s deal to install a charging point at a discounted rate consummate with taking an electricity supply package is an interesting and appealing one – though as one industry insider joked to me: “If you were an electricity supplier why wouldn’t you want to fit a vending machine to your customer’s house?”.

A switched-on factor in your estate who understands and has experience of such installations could be helpful.

We can provide homeowners with demonstrations of systems in operation at other developments or help co-ordinate groups of owners into community schemes where bulk installation discounts may be available.

As an example, the end cost of a fresh installation in a new housing development where the homeowner had already purchased an EV and has now installed a fast charger was £50. The actual value added to the house?

Who knows, but I’ll wager it’s a heck of a lot more than that.

Derek MacDonald is Joint Managing Director of Newton Property

Don’t stop the bus in a bid to start on a green route.

As the Scottish Government announces plans to legislate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045, now is a good time to consider whether national targets for carbon reduction marry up with local objectives to improve air quality – and what we can learn from the petrol vs diesel debate as we look at alternative means to power vehicles.

In the 1990s diesel was promoted as a more environmentally friendly fuel as part of a drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This led to an uptake of the sale of diesel cars and vans as the population embraced this message and shifted their buying patterns accordingly.

The Herald: In the short term, qualifying diesel buses offer a cleaner solution.In the short term, qualifying diesel buses offer a cleaner solution.

However, the realisation that diesel vehicles emit more oxides of nitrogen (NOx) has reversed this trend. The race is now on to reduce NOx and particulate matter levels and the method of choice in Scotland’s four biggest cities is by declaring low emission zones (LEZs).

These set limits on the Euro emission status of vehicles and buses are being targeted first.

Diesel Euro VI powered buses are the cleanest, most cost effective way to clean up the diesel bus fleet and this is what Scotland’s LEZs have as their minimum standard. Battery powered electric vehicles offer a further NOx reduction. However, while local air quality from battery powered vehicles is almost zero, we have to measure their full impact to the environment.

Diesel buses, are measured “wellto-wheel” which takes into account the emissions involved in exploring, extracting and refining the oil and then the storage and distribution.

With battery powered buses, we need to take into account the emissions involved in the production and distribution of the electricity itself.

The batteries require an energy intensive procedure to manufacture them and to recycle them at the end of their life. Hydrogen is in a similar position with almost zero local emissions but the energy required to manufacture the vehicle – and the hydrogen that fuels it – is very emissions- intensive and expensive – though technology will improve that.

I see a future where diesel buses start to be replaced by battery buses within the next five to seven years and then within another five to seven years, once their battery packs are ready for replacement, there will be a lower cost fuel cell powered by hydrogen which will extend the life of the bus and lower the operating costs.

Given that buses make up only 3% to 5% of total vehicle emissions, legislators must reduce the emissions from cars, vans and trucks as soon as possible.

Expecting to make a huge difference simply by cleaning up bus emissions is not just the tail wagging the dog – it is the flea on the tail wagging the dog.

The Herald: Ralph Roberts is Managing Director of McGill’s.Ralph Roberts is Managing Director of McGill’s.

Collective leadership’ call in wake of UN nature report.

The damning United Nations report published this week on the state of the natural world warned that nature is declining at an unprecedented rate, with one million of the world’s eight million species at risk of extinction.

The Herald: One million of the world’s species are at risk says UN.One million of the world’s species are at risk says UN.

The planet’s health check, from the Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), involved more than 450 experts from 50 countries and took three years. According to IPBES chairman Sir Robert Watson, the evidence from the 15,000 references used in the report paint an “ominous picture”.

Commenting on the report, Dr Helaina Black, leader of the Invergowrie-based James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences Group, said: “Collective leadership will be essential. Land has historically been managed primarily for single outcomes such as food, wood, water, energy. We need to change our thinking to accommodate the other outcomes.”

Tom Oliver, Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of Reading, said: “This IPBES reports highlights how we failed in the 2010 global target to halt biodiversity loss, and again in the revised 2020 target to do the same.

“As our global impacts on the natural world continue to accelerate, we cannot afford to fail a third time.”

Loans to fund eco projects as consumers buy in to green businesses.

Nearly half of Scots prefer to buy from environmentally friendly businesses, according to research by Barclays.

The national banking group also says that the results showed that more than two thirds of workers (67%) say it is important to them that their current or prospective employer has a green agenda.

The Herald: Stuart Brown, Head of SME Scotland at BarclaysStuart Brown, Head of SME Scotland at Barclays

It highlighted the need for SMEs not already considering their eco-credentials to do so as environmental considerations become an ever-higher priority for consumers.

Stuart Brown, Head of SME Scotland at Barclays, said: “Consumer trends and habits have clearly swung towards a more eco-based focus, and SMEs need to ensure they are adhering to the same values in order to strengthen and grow.”

The research highlights a trend that shows Scottish SMEs listening to consumer demands, with 62% putting “going green” as a high priority on their agenda. More than a third (36%) of Scottish SMEs believe they are leading the way and describe their business as already being green.

The bank says lending of up to £5 million is available through its Green Loans to SMEs intending to fund energy efficiency, renewable energy, green transport and sustainable food, agriculture and forestry projects.

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