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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

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning's letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article 'Call for halt to beaver damage' (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar's letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife's fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. 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.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Tayside study looks at beavers in the wild

April 29 2013

An official study of wild Tayside beavers hopes to gather around 30 specimens from a similar number of family groups. Examples of animals from the River Ericht and Forfar will officially be included in a scientific study on the possible reintroduction of beavers to Scotland. Tayside Beaver Study Group (TBSG) chairman David Bale said the new introduction of a point of contact for the public would stop the loss of “sample opportunities” that could hinder an objective survey. The Courier has learned mitigation measures are also being negotiated on the Dean Water near Forfar Loch. The Courier attended a meeting of the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, at which TBSG member Roisin Campbell Palmer said data from local sites will be included in the package of results. Mr Bale confirmed the wild data will prove invaluable but “it is proving hard to get the samples back”. He said: “If people find a beaver which is dead, or if they do shoot a beaver, we ask the people to hand over the carcasses and they can be covered by a licence that a member of SNH staff carries. “The more we can bring that to people’s attention the better.” He added: “Now with the officer Helen Dickinson in place, there will be an obvious contact point. “What the officer is doing is looking at mitigation we are keen on trialling ways to deal with burrowing into flood banks, dealing with dams and so on.” The Dean Water tributary has seen beavers make their home near the A90. Unlike the reintroduction of the animal during trials in Argyll, the Angus colony’s antecedents were released without consent. Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse decided last year to allow beavers in Tayside to remain in the wild. The TBSG, presently headed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), was set up to study the Tayside population without reducing their number. Mr Bale added: “In Tayside, the beavers that are here seem to have escaped or been let out from a collection. “It appears they have been there since at least 2006 and anecdotally perhaps even longer. “When this information came out we said to the Scottish Government, ‘these beavers are here, as well as the official trial, and you need to be aware of this’. “The minister decided the beavers in the Tay catchment, including the Earn, would be allowed to remain in place for the time being and we’d add the information in to what he’d consider doing with them, which will be taken in 2015.” Meanwhile, Angus Council confirmed tree officer Fred Conacher is in discussion over mitigation measures at Forfar Loch Country Park. It is understood planting of fast-growing trees could be used as a safe food for the Dean Water animals, after a number of trees were gnawed next to the dual carriageway. The Courier interviews new TBSG officer Helen Dickinson next week. If you have a question you would like answered email riwatt@thecourier.co.uk.

Readers' letters

Beavers will devastate Scottish woodland

December 4 2016

Sir, - After reading the article (November 29) on the further expansion of the beaver population in Scotland, I would like to bring to the public’s attention the pitfalls of such an enterprise. I am recently returned from a holiday to Argentina and one of our destinations was Tierra del Fuego. In 1946, 25 pairs of beavers were introduced with a view to starting a fur trade. Now today, there is in the region of 400,000 animals. This was a figure given to me by our guide and may not be precise, however, there is no doubt that the beaver population has grown to such an extent that tracts of forest have been decimated and are now considered an ecological disaster. There, as in Scotland, beavers have no natural predators. My photograph, above, will help illustrate the extent of the devastation. To put it bluntly, the trees could not regenerate at a sustainable rate to support the growing population which meant that the beavers have had to expand their feeding area and, in doing so, have created vast swathes of dead trees. In Angus and Perthshire you can find evidence of beaver damage on most rivers and lochs and if their population is allowed to grow, it will only be a matter of time before we face a similar situation to that in Tierra del Fuego on our doorstep. I disagree with the Scottish Government’s decision to provide the present population with protection, but laws are to be followed. Therefore, I suggest stringent control measures are put in place to limit the population to its present level and stop any further expansion. Richard AZ Malkowski. Charleston Village. by Glamis.   Stick to urban matters, Jim Sir, - The triumphal article by Jim Crumley on the legalisation of wild beavers has shown him up for what he is. The recently-formed Scottish Wild Beaver Group has been set up mainly to spread the irresponsibility of setting free beavers contained in private collections. In some cases, it is thought these beavers have been driven to various areas and released furtively. He summarises his article by saying that the beavers will have to be given time. The only time given should be given to the perpetrators of this great escape for contravening wildlife laws. I have nothing against Jim Crumley’s writing. He wrote a very informative and amusing article a couple of weeks ago on the parliamo Dundee theme. He should stick with plaities and cundies and leave rural matters to lifelong countrymen and women. Jim Brown. 12 Dunarn Street, Newtyle.   Beavers are thin edge of wedge Sir, - In reply to Jim Crumley’s latest column about beavers, a Polish friend tells me that in Poland, beavers are restricted to established nature reserves and not tolerated beyond. Jim describes the eco-system of beavers, mentioning their happy life on river banks, creating wetland from dams. He skips the point about gnawing round the base of beautiful trees to kill and fell for the making of those same dams. What about the eco-systems for rabbits, hares, stoats, foxes, people, cattle, pigs, sheep and fish? I seem to recall serious flooding in Alyth recently causing much distress to our human species. Evidence of beaver activity was reported. There is talk of reintroducing lynx, wolves and bears. I fear for my poor country. What price wild camping, or just walking my wee dog along some country path, if the above were to happen? AT Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes.   NHS losing talented staff Sir, - I was very interested to read your front page article reporting that the number of unfilled nursing and midwifery posts has rocketed 200% in Tayside and Fife (November 28). May I suggest that the issue is not necessarily just about one of staff recruitment, but just as importantly, one of staff retention. Perhaps a Freedom of Information request to NHS Tayside would reveal how many staff are leaving the service almost the minute they can access their pension and what is the strategy for succession planning with so many staff leaving early. Dedicated health professionals are leaving their careers behind, well in advance of when they would have normally expected to retire, due to the pressures of working within its inept management structure. Could I also respectfully suggest that it might be beneficial for NHS Tayside chairman Professor John Connell, chief executive Lesley McLay and Health Secretary Shona Robison to attend one of NHS Tayside’s preparation for retirement courses, of which there are many and attended by many. They might be a bit more enlightened as to why recruitment into NHS Tayside is so difficult and why we are losing so many talented and dedicated professionals. Craig McGeoghie. 10 Newhall Gardens, Dundee.   Embarrassing deference Sir, - We are all perfectly aware your columnist Jenny Hjul feels London is more capable of running Scotland than the Scots themselves. However, who knew she was so willing to have almost anyone have a say in how Scotland is governed, at the expense of Holyrood actually deciding these matters? In her column (November 30) Ms Hjul cited Spain, Norway, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy all ignoring Scotland’s diplomatic efforts and well pleased with that she seemed too. I am surprised she manages to get out of bed of a morning with that bad back from genuflecting to anyone wishing to tell the Scots what to do. She takes tugging the forelock to a whole new level. Sadly, Ms Hjul is that particular type of unionist who will side with anyone as long as it keeps Scotland in its proper place. How ironic she displayed this visceral hatred for our Scottish Government (again) on St Andrews Day. Henry Malcolm. 331 Clepington Road, Dundee.   SNP put police in VAT peril Sir, - Councillor Kevin Cordell (November 30) is on shaky ground in his criticism of the VAT position affecting Police Scotland. In 2012, before Police Scotland was established, the Scottish Government was warned that by abolishing local police forces and creating a national force, it would take police services out of the scope of VAT refunds, but the Scottish Government pressed on regardless. The abolition of local police forces has not only caused the VAT issue but has also resulted in a loss of local accountability and the current threat of closure to 57 local police stations. Cllr Fraser Macpherson. Liberal Democrat, Dundee City Council.

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.


Michael Marra remembered with new bench at Niel Gow Oak

March 25 2013

A wooden bench commemorating a fiddle legend has been unveiled by the widow of a Dundee musician. To mark the start of the Niel Gow Scottish Fiddle Festival at the weekend, the Forestry Commission Scotland installed a new bench dedicated to Gow on the banks of the Tay at Inver, near Dunkeld. It is sited at Niel Gow’s Oak, where he is said to have composed many of his finest tunes, and replaces the original bench that was damaged in a storm. The new bench bears a line from a song by singer-songwriter Michael Marra, who died last year, and was unveiled by his widow Peggy. https://www.youtube.com/embed/wi4ewo3X_cc?rel=0 Peter Fullarton of the commission’s team in Tay District said: “Niel Gow was a weaver’s son who taught himself to play the fiddle but he was widely considered the best fiddle player in Perthshire. “He was in high demand all over the country so it’s probably safe to say he was the most famous fiddler in Scotland at that time. “Now that we’ve replaced the bench, anyone who visits the area has the opportunity to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the setting and maybe get a taste of the inspiration that helped Gow to create so many memorable tunes.” The replacement bench has been carved by Nigel Ross and the inscription carved by Andy McFetters. The inscription a line from Marra’s song Niel Gow’s Apprentice reads: “I’ll sit beneath the fiddle tree, with the ghost of Niel Gow next to me.”

Readers' letters

Wrong to involve Pope in Falklands dialogue

March 21 2013

Sir, A lot has been written and said recently about Pope Francis, the Catholic Church and the need for humility. So I was concerned to see that Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wants him to use his influence to promote dialogue over the Falkland Islands (Courier, March 19). The timing is unfortunate. In the same week that the new pontiff was elected by an obscure and secretive process, another vote was taking place in the south Atlantic. The islanders voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to remain a British overseas territory. Although the church has nearly a billion followers worldwide, that does not mean that they want to see the Vatican involved in international politics. In fact they are probably more concerned about how Pope Francis can help restore the church’s credibility in the wake of the child abuse scandals. He has started on the right note by trying to promote an image of a quiet, simple lifestyle which tends to shun pomp and grandeur. He would do well also to concentrate not just on making the institution and its clergy more accountable for their behaviour, he could insist that it adopts a less strident tone on private sexual morality and a more positive one in helping people seek consolation, encouragement and inspiration through religious belief. Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes. Survey was misleading Sir, I read with astonishment the article in The Courier March 19, that according to a recent survey the majority of Scots are in favour of wind farms. I then discovered that a very small percentage of people were asked (the figure quoted was more than a thousand). I do not consider this number represents anywhere even close to a majority of the Scottish population. Do the people who are doing this have an ulterior motive for trying to persuade everyone to believe this survey? I would suggest that hydro power would be a cheaper method both for the environment and the population. June Reid. 12 Findhorn Street, Dundee. Nothing to do councillors? Sir, Whether it has been done with the best of intentions or not (Burger vans could face council ban, Courier, March 18), it seems that we really are living in a nanny state. Banning these vans may hinder kids from getting what they want to eat, but it won’t succeed in making them eat healthy options. I find it slightly scary that councillors have the power to ban this and that, without even considering that they may be destroying someone’s livelihood. I have no personal axe to grind, but it worries me that some of my tax money may be used to fight any legal challenge that this will, in all likelihood, involve. At a time of austerity and local cuts, shocking road surfaces and job losses, do the good councillors not have better things to do with their time? John Strachan. 23 Beechwood Avenue, Glenrothes. Bellringers and beavers Sir, I agree with David Gibbon, (letters, March, 19), when he states: “You should be ringing church bells for the return of beavers 400 years after they were hunted to extinction.” I wonder who the “You” is that he refers to? The editor in person, or the readership in general? Alas, without proper bellringing training, none of this will be possible and until then the beavers will have to make do with a less satisfactory welcome. As a bellringer, I would hope that unlike the beavers we will not be hunted to extinction and that the ancient art of bellringing will continue to provide a celebratory noise for years to come. This will only happen if sufficient numbers are available to maintain the sound of church bells which, I am sure, nobody would wish to disappear. Whereas there is no current danger of extinction, recruits are always welcome at all bell towers, and anyone wishing to “have a go” may contact me at the address below. Accordingly may I respectfully suggest the “You” to whom Mr Gibbon refers could be himself, thus ensuring the beavers do receive the welcome they deserve. Ronald Oliver. 4 Lethnot Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. Remove perk Sir, I read The Courier article on the loss of parking for PRI staff (Perth nurses’ safety fears, March 19), and noted it is shift staff who will be penalised the most with the loss of parking facilities. I bet the managers will still have their reserved bays. No doubt they will have set hours, mostly between 9am and 5pm, probably, and never start at 8am or finish after 10pm. Let them lose their perk of reserved parking and allocate the freed-up spaces to the shift staff. Alastair Mclean. 4 Fletcher Place , Crieff. Price too high Sir, Just for the avoidance of doubt, a nation’s possession of weapons of mass destruction does not in any way justify the invasion of it. And the death of one innocent child was too high a price to pay to get Saddam Hussein. I have no idea why 10 years later we are still entertaining the lies with any sort of serious examination. David McEwan Hill. Dalinlongart, Sandbank, Argyll.

Angus & The Mearns

Group study of Tayside’s wild beavers

June 7 2013

The reintroduction of a long-extinct animal has divided Scotland’s countryside interests like no other over the last several years. The Tayside Beaver Study Group (TBSG) has begun a programme of live trapping to monitor the movements and health of local beavers along the River Ericht and the Vale of Strathmore. The TBSG is in place to objectively collect data to present to the Scottish Government on the Tayside beaver population and their impacts, both positive and negative. The group has appointed a project officer as a liaison for those who see animals in the wild and Helen Dickinson spoke to The Courier about what her job will entail. What sort of things are you looking to learn from the live trapping? “We want to establish the health condition of the population across Tayside. During health screening we take general measurements, including weight and tail dimensions, to establish the condition of the animal and take samples to enable testing for various native and non-native diseases. “With genetic testing, we can understand more about the origin of the population, including which part of Europe they may originate from and how individuals across Tayside are related. “We live trap the beavers and they’re taken to a veterinary facility (at Edinburgh Zoo), where they undergo health tests and we take blood and hair samples, which will allow us to analyse their DNA. In terms of the actual procedure, it takes a couple of hours at most, at which time the beaver will be under anaesthetic.” Have your early attempts at live trapping been successful? “We’re still in quite low numbers (of specimens). Relatively speaking, we’re in the early stages of the trapping programme and have a fair way to go. The logistics of finding somewhere we can trap are difficult. “We have to think about several things, including the welfare of the beaver. We have to be able to have good access, so we can remove them from the trap quickly to keep distress to a minimum and we can’t have traps in very public locations as there is a risk of possible public interference.” Have you seen any specimens that are dead already? Has it been a problem since the wild beavers came about? “I am unsure of how many, if any, beavers have been shot and killed. If it is happening, we’re not always in the loop. “The study group is trying to promote practical non-lethal ways of dealing with the impacts of beavers on land use and we want to encourage landowners to get in touch to discuss any problems. “We have to explain that the legal issue around beavers is not straight forward, currently it’s not illegal to kill a beaver but it is illegal to possess a live or dead beaver without the appropriate licences from SNH.” Who should a troubled landowner contact as their first port of call? “They should contact me as the representative of the study group. I am able to undertake site visits to document the problem and discuss methods of minimising the impacts of beaver activity and as the project progresses we hope to offer more advice on various mitigation methods; this information will be available on the website and through contacting me. “At some point in the near future, we’re going to release a questionnaire to landowners and land managers who have beaver activity on their land. This will allow us to gather information on the impacts they feel are as a result of beaver activity, both positive and negative. “During site visits, I am able to collect this information as well.” * Helen Dickinson by email at tayside_beavers@snh.gov.uk.

Readers' letters

Beavers and farming cannot exist together

March 25 2016

Sir, - I refer to Monday’s article featuring Chris Packham’s call for legal protection for beavers. It was claimed there was evidence suggesting beavers may prevent flooding. The article cited a Stirling University study that “found their dams act like a sponge by storing then slowly releasing water”. Actually, the Stirling report provides no such evidence. One assertion theStirling report is definite about is “by building dams, beavers raise and stabilise water levels, thus maintaining asubmerged lodge orburrow entrance. This reduces predation risk while increasing access to inundated wooded riparian zones.” This I find difficult to square with the notion of reducing downstream flooding by keeping the water in the uplands as, unless the beavers are obliging enough to empty their dams during periods of low rainfall, then any spare capacity has already been used up even before it starts to rain. Furthermore, the raised water table increases the area ofpermanently saturated ground, thus the sponge the article speaks of is already soaked, resulting in even faster run off. Finally, even theScottish NaturalHeritage report to the Government acknowledges that during periods of spate, these dams may wash away so water which would otherwise have already passed downstream is then added to the spate waters. I would await evidence to the contrary, but from any objective position, when you think about it, rather than blandly accepting the assertion, I I think that beavers reducing downstream flooding is a myth. Now before we all don helmets and retreat to our preconceived positions, it is important to remember this is not an animal issue; beavers will do what beavers do. It is a human issue and goes to the heart of what we want to do with ourcountryside. There is a straightforward choice, not necessarily a simple one, but it boils down to arable farming in low-lying artificially managed areas or uncontrolled beavers. There cannot be both. Just about rule number one in any wildlife reintroduction is to not undertake it in an area of maximum human-to-animal conflict. An area top of such a list to avoid would be the Strathmore Valley. These animals did not need to be here and their very presence is an actively human engineered result with all sorts of other ramifications which shine a light on the way our country is run. Tayside is the lead area in this and the rest of the country will not thank us if they feel they have been bounced into an outcome over which they had no knowledge. Euan Walker-Munro. Mains of Kinnettles, Forfar. Role of Darwin’s grandfather Sir, - With reference to your series of articles, Charles Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus deserves a mention in the controversy over PatrickMatthew (1790 to 1874). Like Charles, he trained at Edinburgh Medical School. The Scot, JamesHutton, the “father of modern geology”, had published his Theory of the Earth in 1795. Erasmus Darwin expanded it in 1796 into an entire theory of nature in Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, suggesting that “all warm-blooded animals have arisen from oneliving filament”, and anticipating the survival of the fittest theory. Charles Darwin refined that further, helped by anotherScottish geologist Sir Charles Lyell in On the Origin of Species (1859). Moreover, JamesBurnett (Lord Monboddo, 1714 to 1799), another wide-ranging genius of the Scottish Enlightenment and friend of Burns and Boswell, previouslytheorised about natural selection. Matthew probably knew that. ErasmusDarwin may have met him; he certainly knew of Monboddo’s work so it is probable that hisgrandson did too. John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews. DNA setbackfor evolution Sir, - It has been amusing to watch the disgraceful cat-fight betweenscientists over theTheory of Evolution. One has resorted to atrociouslanguage to defend the findings of CharlesDarwin. Now if that is howevolutionists treateach other, imaginewhat they would do if someone dared tosuggest that CharlesDarwin was wrong. I am sure that will happen more and more when full details of the createdlanguage within DNA becomes more widely known. Charles Wilson. King’s Road, Rosyth. Trump may have right idea Sir, - The latest reports from Brussels indicate that terrorists have killed at least 34 people and wounded many more, some with life-threatening injuries (March 23). This is yet another massacre of innocents by religious maniacs. The head of Interpol said that 5,000 jihadists are at large in theEuropean Union, having slipped in from Syria, with an estimated 700 now in the UnitedKingdom. Jihadists find it too easy to infiltrate Europe posing as refugees and set up cells in no-go areas to plan attacks. These Muslim no-go enclaves in Europeancities are breeding grounds for Islamicradicalism where the police and otherauthorities have to ask permission to enter. Imams who tell usthat Islam is the religion of peace will, I trust, now vigorously call for the end of these divisive no-go areas in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain to help ensure the end of terrorist cells in Europe. If they do not, then Europeans may agree that Donald Trump had the right idea. Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow. Don’t follow Dundee’s lead Sir, - Perth is right to resist the demolition of its city hall. Across Europe, cities have retained theirhistoric character by careful preservation and in some cases, reconstruction after wars. We in Britain on the other hand, have always favoured the wrecking ball of demolition. Dundee’s greatWilliam Adam Dundee town house was torn down. In its place was built City Square which isseldom used and home to wind-blown litter. I cannot believe that this is what the people of Perth wish to copy. I believe there is an appetite to find a new use for Perth City Hall. A windy square in the middle of town would be out of keeping with a great city like Perth. Bob Ferguson. North Muirton, Perth. Square is way ahead for Perth Sir, - If Perth and Kinross Council demolished the city hall when originally planned we would already have had several years of enjoyment of a civic square. It is time that thecouncil, would-bedevelopers and Historic Scotland got real, and accepted the building has no future. I cannot be the only one who, even in better times, considered the building to behideously ugly. On top of that we now have an aura of neglect. This applies also to the degenerating surrounding streets and pavements, which clearly will not be fixed whileuncertainty remains. Arthur Davis. The Haining, Atholl Park, Dunkeld. Keep traffic out of city centre Sir, - With reference to the calls for Dundeecity centre to be re-opened to motor traffic, many of us appreciate that there is at least some space where we canwander without being molested by cars. It is peaceful and,contrary to what some claim, I am sure itfacilitates rather than discourages shopping. Antony Black. 79 Blackness Avenue, Dundee. Businesses in charity guise? Sir, - Dundee City Council is making reductions in grants to charities. Surely these organisations can use theirvolunteers to fundraise? Or are they businesses who employ staff and who pretend to be voluntary, in order to make use of the tax breaks? I am a director of a charitable organisation. We have no paid staff and raise all of our funds. None of our volunteers, receive any remuneration or expenses. Perhaps some other local charities shouldfollow our lead. Steve Pegg. 8 Davan Place, Broughty Ferry.