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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Readers' letters

Waste has to be dumped somewhere

April 9 2013

Sir, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie argues that Rosyth, although willing to accrue the alleged “economic benefit” of Westminster’s nuclear submarines, “shouldn’t be expected to tolerate the burden of a nuclear waste site on their doorstep”. Although I agree with Mr Rennie that the safety of the people of Rosyth must be paramount, where else does he propose that the nuclear waste be dumped? On the doorstep of another Scottish town? Amidst the natural beauty of unspoilt Scottish countryside? It will have to be dumped somewhere. As long as the UK Government squanders taxpayers’ cash on such morally dubious and potentially hazardous nuclear technologies including £100 billion on the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons stationed merely 40 kilometres from our largest city significant amounts of dangerous, toxic waste will necessarily have to be dumped on Scotland’s doorstep. The only way to avoid the problem of dealing with nuclear waste is, quite simply, to cease producing it. Given Westminster’s inane infatuation with militaristic vanity projects, this is unachievable without a Yes vote in 2014. With the powers of an independent nation, Scotland will no longer be an impotent spectator in her own home as its natural beauty is defaced and its values debased by Westminster vandals. David Kelly. 17 Highfields, Dunblane. They’re putting this “majesty” at risk Sir, It was with interest and a certain amount of incredulity that I read John Swinney’s comments in Friday’s paper. He has the audacity to talk of walking through the “majesty of the county of Angus the great historic houses like Glamis, the beauty of the glens and the coastline”. He is perfectly correct in stating that Angus contains many beautiful views and a magnificent coastline but all of this is being put at risk through his party’s determination to meet “green” energy targets through an unproven method of production ie wind turbines. If he has any proof of the success rate he envisages through these monstrosities then I would be glad to hear them. I would also to hear when the people of the majestic country he is spoiling by erecting them can expect to benefit by receiving lower electric bills. Willie Robertson. Forest Park Cottage, Lynton, Stanley, Perthshire. Saved 28%, wrecked 72% Sir, So that nice Mr Salmond has decided to spare 28% of Scotland’s wild land from windfarms! He could still be the Scot who is remembered for wrecking the landscape and wildlife of the remaining 72% of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It would take 16,000 large onshore turbines to meet Scotland’s present peak demand,not to mention the essential back-up. Also, the God of renewables is extremely greedy, and few industries could remain competitive with such high electricity prices, or consumers stay out of fuel poverty. The chancellor is already having to exempt certain manufacturing industries from the climate change levy. Stephen Grieve. 60 Nethergate, Crail. Biomass claim simply not true Sir, Your reporter’s claim (April 6) that Courier readers have given their backing to a biomass plant at the harbour could not be further from the truth. From a small sample size of 102, only 45 respondents agreed that Dundee port is a good site for a biomass plant. In contrast, 3,274 written letters of objection from local residents were received by the Scottish Government when this incinerator was initially proposed in 2010. The article also fails to mention that Forth Energy’s revised report states that 12,748 people would be affected by increased levels of nitrogen dioxide if this plant is approved. NHS Tayside expressed concern in December 2010 about this plant subjecting even small populations to increases in pollution levels. The article also highlights the fact that road traffic is a major contributor to the nitrogen dioxide problems in the Stannergate area, but it fails to mention the fact that an additional 20,000 HGV movements in and out of the port area each year would be experienced if the plant is approved, leading to further increases in NO2 levels. The article also features an artist’s impression of the plant. It fails to highlight the fact that the chimney would be almost twice the height of Tayside House and would be the first thing to catch the eye of any visitor coming to Dundee. Why bother having a design competition for the V&A when tourists’ attention will be drawn towards the enormous incinerator on the other side of the bridge? Is this really what Courier readers want in our city? N. McLean. Primrose Bank, Dundee.


Prospect of warm relationship for proposed Dundee biomass plant

April 20 2013

The proposed Dundee biomass plant could have a customer right next door. The Nynas UK refinery would be in the market for the heat produced by the £325 million renewable energy plant, if the price is right. Piping heat from the biomass facility to the refinery would be relatively simple as they would be neighbours in the east of the port. Forth Energy says its giant biomass plant would provide enough electricity to meet the equivalent of 80% of Dundee’s needs and enough heat for six Ninewells Hospitals. It also says it would produce a negligible amount of nitrogen dioxide pollution from its 90-metre high stack, and a tiny amount in comparison to the volume produced by passing road traffic The Nynas UK refinery produces bitumen for asphalt surfacing. It needs heat to flow around its storage tanks to prevent the bitumen solidifying. That heat presently comes from the circulation of hot oil. Stephen Lockhart, Nynas site manager, said he was aware that the proposed biomass plant would produce heat which would be offered to customers. Asked if his company would be in the market to buy the heat, he said: “If the commercial terms are right, of course we would be interested.” Such a deal could offer economic and environmental advantages. The former would come from lower operating costs and the latter from eliminating the need for the refinery to run its own system to heat oil to circulate round its tanks. Mr Lockhart stressed there is no arrangement in place with Forth Energy to buy its heat, so the issue was hypothetical at this stage. He added that his refinery has been given a grade of excellent for its environmental performance by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the body that will also licence the biomass if it is built. The biomass plant’s 90-metre stack would be nearly twice the height of the tallest Nynas stack at 50 metres. The biomass would not be the first power station generation plant at Dundee harbour. Carolina Port on virtually the same site was built first as a coal-fired and then an oil-fired power station in 1908 and demolished in 1984. Its tallest stack measured 110 metres and was higher than the proposed biomass stack. * See images of the former Carolina Port station in Monday’s edition. In that edition we will also publish names of some of our panellists to take part in The Courier’s debate on the biomass proposal.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Former lord provost backing Dundee biomass plant plans

April 23 2013

Former Lord Provost John Letford has spoken out in favour of the Dundee biomass plant the controversial £325 million renewable energy complex being proposed for the city’s industrial waterfront. No longer bound by rules that prevented him from speaking on such issues, the man who was first citizen for 11 years said: “This is my personal view but I am absolutely for it.” Forth Energy say their plant, which would take woodchips shipped from around the world to create heat and electricity, would employ 500 people during construction and 70 for at least the next 20 years. Mr Letford has retained a close interest in issues affecting the city and has a strong connection with the harbour having worked in both the former Caledon shipyard and the biomass’ forerunner, the Carolina Port power station.The Courier is holding a special May 1 debate on the biomass plans. Click here to register for tickets.He accepted there are arguments for and against the biomass, with the environmental lobby doubting its green credentials and local groups fearing a threat to public health from the nitrogen dioxide emissions from its 90 metre stack. Mr Letford said these are not to be treated lightly, but the other side of the argument is that the plant would boost the city’s economy, revive its industrial reputation and send out an important message that it is open for renewables business. He also does not think the biomass plant on the north bank of the Tay would detract from the stunning architecture of the V&A being built a mile upstream on the central waterfront. For a full interview, see Tuesday’s Courier or try our digital edition.

Readers' letters

January 15: Must we die for biomass jobs boost?

January 15 2011

The Courier's week ends with discussions of the pros and cons of a biomass plant in Dundee, work on Perth's South Inch and a call to restrict bankers' bonuses. Must we die for biomass jobs boost? Sir,-In response to your article Bid to reduce air pollution backed (January 12) it was interesting to read that the UK Government's panel of independent experts estimates that as many as 200,000 people die prematurely from exposure to air pollutants. The experts quote that there is mounting evidence to support what is already known that these pollutants play a major part in asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. With Dundee's Dock Street being highlighted in a recent report from SEPA, in relation to the construction of the proposed biomass incinerator, as having one of the poorest local air qualities, I still find it astonishing that Scotland's health secretary and our local MSP, Shona Robison, is still undecided in her opinion as to the "benefits" of this incinerator. Along with the greatly increased HGV traffic trundling though our streets bringing its "locally" sourced biofuel to feed this privately-owned cash machine, this incinerator will also spew its poisonous gunk of nitrogen dioxide particles across our city. How can Ms Robison sit on the fence any longer? The evidence is there in black and white against this incinerator being located anywhere near a built-up area, let alone Dundee city centre. Yes, Dundee would benefit from the 40 or so jobs which may be created, but do we need to die for them? Ian Milne.Netherton of Craigie,Craigiebarn Road,Dundee. City pollution health danger Sir,-It is with interest that I read (January 12) that Dundee City Council is welcoming measures to reduce the levels of the harmful pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and particulates, in the city, particularly in "hotspot" areas and that they recognise that Dundee has an air pollution problem. It makes me wonder why our MP Stewart Hosie is so keen to allow a biomass power station to be built in one of these "hotspot" areas. A power station which will emit nitrogen dioxide and particulates, creating an even bigger health problem for the people living in Dundee. Does he not care about the health of the people he is supposed to represent? Laura McLean. 7 Primrose Bank,Dundee. Inch plan short of practicality Sir,-I noted (January 12) that Perth and Kinross Council are trying to attract private businesses to create a new attraction on the ground between the bowling green and the existing boating pond on Perth's South Inch. Does the council know what goes on after hours on the South Inch? Fences get torn down, bottles smashed and litter thrown all over the place. It will just be a matter of time before the improvements that have been made to the existing boating pond are vandalised. The council have put new gates on the bowling green but that does not stop the drinking fraternity getting in and smashing bottles. Many people who have dogs are afraid to go down to the South Inch at night, especially women. I know the council are trying to improve the area but I think all will be a waste of money. I do not know where the council get all their ideas from. They want to build a cycle bridge over the Tay and want to encourage more cycling. I live in the town and most people cycle on the pavement. I reported this to the police and was told that they are safer on the pavement than the road. Len Martin.17 King Street,Perth. Bonus anger won't disappear Sir,-How important is the control of bankers' bonuses to national economic recovery? I would say it is vital. Those at the top of businesses and those involved in day-to-day operations have to be seen to make the same sacrifices as the rest of us. Labour leader Ed Miliband has made a hesitant start to his period in office. But he deserves support for his plea to extend the tax on the bonuses (January 11). This need not be seen as an attack on enterprise. It is a means to help get public consent for the harsh measures necessary to get the deficit down. The coalition could stand or fall on whether it gets that consent over the coming 18 months. Most people supported the bail-out of the banks because the alternative their collapse along with economic meltdown was too much to contemplate. The last government had to accept some of the responsibility for the situation that arose but the bankers have to accept most of the responsibility. They must now get the banks back to profitability, repay taxpayers and restore their reputation. That will never recover while bonuses continue to irritate the public. Bob Taylor.24 Shiel Court,Glenrothes. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Readers' letters

So many near misses approaching bridge

April 15 2013

Sir, I sincerely hope that when the roadworks are complete at Dundee’s waterfront there is a totally separate lane leading on to the Tay Road Bridge. Last Monday I was heading home to Tayport along Riverside Drive only to be stopped at the Tesco entrance at exactly 5pm. I was in the correct lane unlike so many who chanced their luck in the left-hand lane, only to later indicate and push their car into the right-hand lane. So many near misses. Because of this it took me and everyone else in the correct lane 28 minutes to reach the Tay Road Bridge access. No mention was made of this on the Radio Tay jambuster line. When I eventually got home I searched my phone book and checked online for their number to alert them to the congestion. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Why not display it on the billboards? Goodness knows there are plenty of them en route! So, come on, traffic controllers and pushy drivers get your act together! Anne H F Lowe. 13 Nelson Street, Tayport. Biomass makes no sense Sir, Recent Courier reports relating to the proposed biomass plant in Dundee have focused on the health impact associated with emissions of nitrogen dioxide but what is never mentioned is the increase in local carbon dioxide emissions. No new coal-fired generation facility would be allowed in Scotland without carbon emission mitigation and yet people seem to be sleep walking into supporting a so-called biomass (wood burning) facility which also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide. Both coal and wood-burning involve the oxidation of carbon to form carbon dioxide. In fact, a wood-burning generator emits almost 25% more carbon dioxide per kWh of electricity generated than a coal-fired generator would. In effect, Dundee would be importing carbon emissions from the countries from which the wood will be sourced. This makes no sense when we are ravaging our countryside with ever more wind turbines in an effort to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions. Dr G M Lindsay. Whinfield Gardens, Kinross. Figures are dwarfed Sir, I wish to congratulate Steve Flynn on his excellent letter (Courier, April 11) on the inequalities of present government legislation. While most people do not wish to see illegal benefit claims made, these are dwarfed by tax dodging from the well-off and by reduced taxes, again, to people who are much more than comfortably off. Another group of people Mr Flynn does not mention are the directors of banks who, through inefficiency and cavalier decisions have cost the taxpayer billions of pounds yet, many are still being paid large bonuses and pensions. I am sure that the amounts of illegal benefit claims pale into insignificance when compared to these latter items. John Baston. 9a Seabourne Gardens, Broughty Ferry. It is a time to show respect Sir, Why should anyone want to organise a street party to celebrate the demise of a former prime minister? The only appropriate time to organise such a gathering was surely when that person left office(in the case of Mrs Thatcher, over 22 years ago). But dancing on the grave, so to speak, of the former leader is not just distasteful it is perverse. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the Durham coalfields, the republican streets of Belfast and Londonderry, or the centre of Glasgow or Brixton. Events like these don’t just diminish our reputation for tolerance, they undermine the whole texture of political debate and democracy. Respect for your opponents in time of personal difficulty and death is simple good manners and humanity. Nobody contests that Mrs Thatcher was a controversial figure. But the plain fact is that her attitudes and beliefs (honestly held and worthy of respect at a time of her passing), were subject to the test of the ballot box. For good or ill she was successful on three occasions. In the end it was her own MPs and Cabinet who prompted her resignation in November 1990. Bob Taylor.24 Shiel Court,Glenrothes.Remarks show a lack of classSir, I write with reference to your article featuring Labour councillor Tom Adams and entitled, A dram to toast the lady’s demise.I found the tone of the article to be in incredibly poor taste and I am very uncomfortable with the pleasure Mr Adams appears to derive from the death of an 87-year-old frail lady with Alzheimer’s. Mr Adams, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Harold Wilson closed three times as many coal mines as Margaret Thatcher ever did. Nor does he appear to apportion any responsibility for his plight as a young man to the militant NUM leader Arthur Scargill. Most of those in his party seem to accept that Mr Scargill and his fellow militants played a major role in the failure of the mining industry. That aside, his comments, coming from an elected member of Fife Council regarding Mrs Thatcher’s death are disgraceful and show a distinct lack of class. Allan D S Smith. 10 Balgonie Place, Markinch.

Business news

Pledge that Forth Ports sale will not affect plans to make Dundee a renewable energy hub

March 23 2011

Forth Ports have pledged that plans to make Dundee a hub for the renewables industry as a manufacturing base for offshore wind turbines and the site of a biomass plant were unaffected by the group's £745 million sale to a private equity investment fund. Dundee City Council wants Scottish ministers to defer plans for the biomass plant until more information is available about its impact on public health and the environment. If the government are not minded to accept the council's recommendations or impose conditions on air quality, the council will insist on its response to the Forth Energy scheme being treated as an objection. A public inquiry will be triggered if this happens, allowing all aspects of one of the most emotive planning issues to affect the city in many years to be investigated. Forth Ports have been taken over by Arcus European Infrastructure Fund through its subsidiary Otter Ports on the basis of £16.30 per share. Forth Ports own Leith, Grangemouth, Dundee and Tilbury docks and also harbour sites at Rosyth, Methil, Burntisland and Kirkcaldy. The group reported profits before tax up 20% to £56 million. Its property holdings increased from £108 million to £115 million, and have been boosted by the use of Tilbury for the London Olympics. They have permission for a biomass plant at Tilbury and have applied for similar installations at Leith, Dundee, Grangemouth and Rosyth through their Forth Energy subsidiary. David Richardson, chairman of Forth Ports, said the Arcus offer gives Forth Ports shareholders the opportunity to realise their investment at a fair price. He added, "It is also pleasing that this successful Scottish company will continue to be run from Scotland." Forth Ports manages and operates 280 square miles of navigable waters in the Tay and Forth estuaries, including two specialised marine terminals for oil and gas export, and provides other marine services, such as towage and conservancy. The group also have significant property interests and renewable energy projects and is looking to gain planning approval for onshore wind installations and biomass facilities in its ports. Charles Hammond, chief executive, said plans for developments in the Tay and Forth were unaffected by the takeover. "We have high quality assets, a robust business model and plans to grow the business and remain in Scotland," he said. "Dundee and Methil are two ports that have been identified as potential renewables hubs and we aim to move forward with these plans enthusiastically. In Dundee, this includes potential investment in facilities for the manufacture of offshore wind turbines and a biomass plant." These developments could bring hundreds of jobs and be a major boost to the economy, but the biomass plant has run into strong opposition.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km