Is now the time to join the EV revolution asks renewables expert Joe Fergusson?

Bell Ingram has joined the electric vehicle revolution by installing workplace charge points at company HQ in Perth.

Our Head of Estate Agency Carl Warden is leading the charge in his Tesla 3 which has so far chalked up over 4,000 miles on company business.

If you too are thinking of replacing a petrol or diesel car with an electric model there are a number of pros and cons to consider before making the leap.

On the plus side, electric cars can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you hundreds of pounds each year in tax and fuel costs. The choice and abilities in the range of EVs on the market is expanding quickly, and the charging infrastructure is definitely improving. In fact, there are over 1,800 Chargepoint Scotland public points (out of over 2,500 installed across Scotland and 24,600 across the UK) offering free charging at up to 50kW, which gives around 100 miles of travel for a 30 minute plug-in.

Additionally, there is still ‘hay to be made’ by taking advantage of grants from both the UK’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) and from Transport Scotland towards the installation of new charge points at workplaces and at homes. And the tax system remains generous towards businesses making the switch, allowing year 1 100% capital write down of new vehicles and 1% of value benefit-in-kind for users.

On the flip side however, EVs still have a shorter range than petrol/diesel vehicles and recharging the battery takes time and planning. Added to this, the upfront cost of buying these vehicles is still much higher than their traditional equivalents, although that gap is steadily narrowing.

To become ubiquitous the EV must be as convenient as its petrol/diesel equivalent, with costs on a par, both new and second hand, and the charging infrastructure must catch up, enabling urban street-dwellers to charge from lamp posts and bollards, etc.

What is for certain is that the writing has been on the wall for the internal combustion engine (ICE) ever since SONY commercialised the Lithium-Ion battery for its mobile telephone in 1991. In the 1910s, Thomas Edison spent much more time eeking out more miles from his lead-acid powered EV than he did on his electric lightbulb; what held him back was energy density – or kilowatt hours per tonne.

Even without the Kyoto Protocol, all the subsequent COPs and the focus on air quality in our vehicle-clogged cities, the EV – sometimes described as ‘a mobile phone with wheels’ – was only ever waiting for the battery with sufficient energy density to get its driver from A to B without having to stop to re-charge before it suited them to do so – now achievable with today’s Lithium-Ion chemistry and continuously-improving variations on it.

The beautiful simplicity of the EV – body, battery, computer, motor, wheels – compared to the fantastically complex supply chains for the hundreds of additional whizzing, rubbing, grinding and exploding elements of an ICE vehicle, means that EVs are the future of personal transport, like it or not. Their electricity may come from a fuel cell fuelled by green hydrogen, catalysed from water by renewable energy, but with ranges and charging times improving quickly, in a decade or so the ICE will become a rare and specialised thing.

Want to know more? Our Microgeneration and Renewables Consultant Joe Fergusson provides a feasibility appraisal service to any organisation pondering the viability of joining in the EV revolution, and can be contacted at or 07711 552693.

Our people

Joe Fergusson

Joe Fergusson

Tel: 01292 886 544

About: Joe has more than 20 years’ experience advising private and corporate clients on all aspects of renewable energy systems. From pre-feasibility advice to project management, his remit includes hydro, biomass, wind, heat pumps, solar, biogas, battery storage, electric vehicle charging, heat networks and combined heat and power. Joe also has a broad knowledge of sustainable building design. Appointed in 2002 as Scotland’s first Community Renewables Development Officer, he developed the Scottish Community & Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) in South West Scotland, reporting to the Energy Saving Trust. Joe is a qualified National Home Energy Rating surveyor with a broad and deep knowledge of building-scale renewable energy systems and grant support schemes. Interests: Low Impact Building Design, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development.

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    Article posted on 01/11/2021

    5 top tips if you are plotting your dream move to the country

    Bell Ingram Design Architect Murray Fleming shares his 5 top tips for things to consider when plot hunting:

    Readers of a certain vintage will remember 1970s’ sitcom The Good Life which chronicled the adventures of Tom (Richard Briars) and Barbara (Felicity Kendal) Good as they embraced a life of self-sufficiency in their home in Surbiton.

    And this desire to create a ‘good life’ has been one of the enduring property trends of the last 50 years with the current pandemic only increasing the demand for house plots as many people reassess their priorities in favour of building a better quality of life in the countryside.

    So, if you are thinking of swapping city living for the rural idyll, Bell Ingram Design Architect Murray Fleming shares his 5 top tips for things to consider when plot hunting:

    1. Where is the sun?

    One of the great benefits of designing a new house on your own plot of ground is the opportunity to take advantage of the sun as it moves through the day and to simply enjoy the pleasures of a light filled house. Whether it be the morning sun in the kitchen or a view of the setting sun from the living room, good house design begins with designing around the sun ‘path’.

    However it is not a simple as north facing site = bad and south facing = good, it is much more a matter of the surrounding topography and how that affects how the sun reaches the site. A north facing site may actually benefit from sun throughout the day if there are no obstructions and a south facing site may not see any sun if its path is obstructed by trees or a large hill immediate to the south.

    Try and visit the site at different times of the day to find out when the sun first hits the plot and when it dips below the horizon at the end of the day. Then, taking account of the time of year, an assessment can be made of how this will vary during the year, as the sun path from winter to summer varies enormously at our northern latitudes.

    1. Where are the utilities?

    Not so glamourous, however as many sites in the countryside are sold with no utilities, an assessment of the cost of bringing in water and electricity, and dealing with sewage is crucial to understanding the ‘real’ cost of the project.

    A site that seems like a good buy at first can quickly become a money pit if the cost of running in each of the utilities is exceptional due to long distances for water/electricity, or poor ground conditions for a sewage system soakaway. Watch out too if no water supply is available and the only option is an expensive and uncertain water ‘borehole’.

    1. Where are the underground services?

    While bringing services a long way into a site can be expensive, dealing with services already on site, but which are in the ‘wrong’ place, can be equally problematic, whether it be a water main running across the plot (which can be the case even in an apparently remote location) or overhead electricity or BT lines.

    There are several companies that can supply this information for a fee, however local knowledge is equally invaluable, and a short chat with a long-time neighbour of the site could save you thousands!

    1. Where are there planning conditions?

    Most house sites will be sold with either ‘Planning in Principle’ or full ‘Detail Approval’ and both are likely to have ‘conditions’ attached which you will be required to comply with. These can vary from a requirement to carry out protected species surveys to archaeological ‘watching briefs’ or simply forming a new vehicular entrance from the public road to meet the current local council standards.

    While many conditions may have no cost implications, the above examples could prove expensive and so making a careful assessment of the potential costs and indeed risks of any planning conditions is an essential part of plot assessment.

    1. Where is the love?

    Buying a plot of land and designing our own house is a dream for many of us, and it’s not as complicated as it might first appear! But, before you make that life changing purchase, ask yourself: “Do I love this site? For better, for worse? For richer for poorer? ‘Til de … well hopefully not that part!” And if the answer is YES!, come and speak to us at Bell Ingram Design and we can help make your dream come true.

    Start planning your dream home by checking out the plots for sale on our website or contacting Murray Fleming by ringing our Beauly office.

    Our people

    Murray Fleming

    Murray Fleming

    Senior Associate
    Tel: 01463 717 799

    About: As Senior Architect based in Bell Ingram’s Beauly office, Murray is responsible for the company's architectural services covering the Highlands and Islands. He has extensive design and project management experience in a wide range of building sectors, including residential, commercial, public and healthcare. Interests: Full architectural design service, Planning advice & submissions, Feasibility studies, Condition surveys, Building warrant advice & submissions, Administration of construction contracts.

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      Article posted on 01/11/2021

      Teeside to Saltend Ethylene Pipeline

      Providing full land agency services to BP Chemicals on a 150km gas pipeline


      Bell Ingram were initially approached by BP Chemicals to assist in routing a proposed 150km gas pipeline between Teesside and Humberside in the North East of England. Bell Ingram undertook an initial routing study before working with BP’s pipeline engineers to refine and finalise the route.


      Bell Ingram referenced the pipeline route and then prepared consent documents and plans for each landowner and occupier along the route. We then negotiated the landowners’ consents, including obtaining agreement to the acquisition of block valve sites and CP Installations. Bell Ingram also assisted in compulsory rights orders cases and acted as expert witness. Our land agents further assisted BP’s consultants in obtaining access to the pipeline route for site investigation and environmental surveys and prior to construction and we prepared a full record of condition of the whole pipeline corridor.


      The pipeline was constructed over two years between 1999 and 2000 and affected nearly 300 landowners and tenants throughout the length of this route. Bell Ingram worked closely with BP and their contractors and shared offices during the construction phase, providing land liaison and land drainage consultancy services. On completion of the pipeline construction, Bell Ingram negotiated compensation claims for crop losses and disturbance. The pipeline was successfully constructed on programme and within budget. Bell Ingram continues to work with the new pipeline owner Ineos, to provide crop loss claim and drainage services during the operation of the pipeline.

      Article posted on 13/12/2019