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Go-ahead for new Inverness electric bus base

By Ian Duncan

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The site for the new electric bus base.
The site for the new electric bus base.

A new electric charging hub in Inverness will be central to the operation of a new long-distance bus service.

Highland Council granted planning permission for the scheme on a site within port authority land in the city.

Ember, an Edinburgh-based fully-electric bus operator, aims to establish the new hub to be used as a base for charging its vehicles which will travel routes including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fort William and Aberdeen.

The proposed site is in Harbour Road, off Shore Street, and according to a report which formed part of the planning application the central location is key because the buses will need to go back to base multiple times per day to recharge due to the high mileage travelled.

A spokesman said: “Being central minimises ‘dead-leg’ mileage and ultimately will allow Ember to run more services.”

The site is located behind a flood wall and the gates may be closed in the event of a tidal surge. The spokesman said: “In addition, all charging hardware will be sufficiently lifted not to be at risk of flood damage – with most of the charging hardware located overhead.

“The area around the site is predominantly commercial or industrial, with a small amount of housing across the road. Since only electric buses will be using the site, there will not be any associated engine noise or pollution.”

The site will mainly be used for parking and charging buses – with space for up to eight buses to charge simultaneously. The spokesman said: “During the day, an average of two to four buses are likely to be charging at any one time with all bays only occupied overnight. In addition, Ember plans to add staff parking, a welfare unit for driver breaks and a vehicle wash bay”

Overhead charging units will be mounted to a 5.2m high steel gantry frame which will be approximately 20cm square with cabling to the overhead charging units recessed inside.

The spokesman said: “Mounting the charger units overhead avoids having any trailing cables and minimises the number obstructions a bus could hit.”

A welfare unit will provide comfortable facilities for drivers who are taking a break while buses are charging.

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