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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...

Outdoors

Kinnaber conservationists to stand before diggers

April 16 2011

Conservationists battling to save lizards in Montrose will next week walk in front of diggers when work begins on a £229,000 cycle path. Trevor Rose of Friends of Angus Herpetofauna has been in last-minute discussions with Angus Council to save any creatures that flee the disruption. Work began this week to cut down bushes and diggers are set to start work on Monday at the site in Kinnaber, which is an area populated by good numbers of common lizards, a species which is protected against intentional killing and injuring. "The latest I have is that we will be permitted to monitor the excavation in the hope of finding lizards as they flee from the earth as it is removed, but this will be limited to just two or three named volunteers," said Mr Rose. "Excavation will now commence next week, probably starting on Monday for two to three days." The path and cycleway stretches from Montrose to the Northwater Viaduct to create an off-road path for cyclists and pedestrians. The path will begin in Broomfield, Montrose, and will be incorporated into land at the former airfield and land at Kinnaber before joining on to the path at the southern end of the viaduct. From the north end of the viaduct the cycleway will follow the public road to St Cyrus to become part of the Sustrans national cycle route and the North Sea Cycle Route. Mr Rose added, "Partly good news is that the new path itself will be biased towards the west of the old railway embankment, rather than along the centre. "This means only the gorse to the west facing side of the embankment will be removed, leaving a strip of gorse to the east facing side untouched.Influence working"I am also meeting with Angus council staff to discuss avoiding the 'hotspot' just inside the steel gate at the main car park end. "It seems our efforts are at least influencing what happens with the site, so many thanks again for your involvement which has been key to persuading Angus Council that there is an issue needing addressed." Volunteers have been working for the past fortnight to capture any lizards which may be nesting behind the dunes at Kinnaber. "On the relocation front I believe our total relocated is now up to six," said Mr Rose. "Now we can see the path running with a westerly bias, we should concentrate our efforts on the remaining standing gorse on that side only, and leave any animals seen on the easterly side in situ. "As we know, the lizard's territories are small so they should be reasonably safe in the gorse which remains standing and untouched, and those animals will help to re-colonise the site once it is re-aligned and complete. "I think we will leave the refugia on the easterly side as they are at present, as in time they may help to hold any resident lizards on that side. "However, it will not be necessary to relocate lizards from the easterly side. "We can continue to monitor and relocate any we find from the westerly edge, including in the cut areas when gorse clearing is complete, at least up to April 18 when excavation work begins." Kinnaber Moor is a site of around 200 hectares, with populations of common lizards throughout. As common lizards are protected against intentional killing and injuring, the council were obliged to accommodate mitigation measures. A local council ranger was recruited by the council to lay refugia on the proposed construction site, a strip approximately 500m long and 10m wide. Common lizards are numerous in the Glens and foothills of the nearby Cairngorms, but are fragmented and rare on the lowlands and coastal areas. "Our short-term and emergency plan is to capture as many lizards as possible and move them to other areas of the moor, suitably far away that they won't migrate back before the work on the cycle path has finished," Mr Rose said. Image used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user Squeezyboy.

Outdoors

Lizard protection bid leads to discovery of slow-worms at Kinnaber

April 12 2011

Conservationists battling to save lizards from being crushed by diggers in Montrose have made a rare discovery which could raise the profile of Kinnaber as a "very special jewel in the Angus crown." Work had already started near to the viaduct when Mr Rose noticed that construction workers' storage units had been placed on the Kinnaber Moor section of the planned cycle path. Mr Rose contacted the council's roads department and arranged to meet the engineer in charge of the works. Plans revealed the proposed route for the cycle path was the line of the old railway, a raised embankment covered in gorse scrub, long since abandoned and now home to hundreds of common lizards. As common lizards are protected against intentional killing and injuring, the council was obliged to accommodate mitigation measures. The use of refuges was discussed, as was the possibility of monitoring for lizard movements when the excavators move in. Once work has started on the path, which is expected to cost around £1760 per year to maintain, the group will continue to monitor the site to capture any lizards that try to flee the construction work. Kinnaber Moor is a site of around 200 hectares, with populations of common lizards throughout. The proposed cycle path only affects a narrow tract of habitat across the moor, but the old railway embankment is a key feature in the area. "The resident lizards use the embankment as a hibernaculum and are just beginning to emerge at this time of year," said Mr Rose. "They will begin to disperse into the surrounding rank grass vegetation once it has grown on later in the year, but for now they are basking, feeding and preparing for courtship on and around the embankment. "This is a very important feature on the landscape and the development is putting them at considerable risk. Common lizards are numerous in the Glens and foothills of the nearby Cairngorms, but are fragmented and rare on the lowlands and coastal areas. "This population is one of only four that are known to FAH in Angus, are therefore very precious and need our protection. "Our short-term and emergency plan is to capture as many lizards as possible and move them to other areas of the moor, suitably far away that they won't migrate back before the work on the cycle path has finished." A volunteer found a slow-worm while embarking on a rescue mission to move lizards from the Kinnaber area on the outskirts of the town to land which will be unaffected by work on a £229,000 cycle path. The slow-worm is a type of lizard. It looks like a snake in some respects but the fact that it has eyelids, a flat forked tongue and can drop its tail to escape from a predator gives its true identity away. Trevor Rose from Friends of Angus Herpetofauna (FAH) said it was a "fantastic find." "If verified, this will be the only current record of slow-worm to the east of the A90," he said. "Until now, all the records I have for Angus come from the Glens. "Like the common lizards, slow-worms and adders would have had a much wider distribution historically, but lowland farming, particularly modern agriculture, has all but wiped them out, leaving them fragmented and isolated. "I had previously believed that only common lizards had survived in a few suitable lowland locations, but if proven, this will show that slow-worms are hanging on in Kinnaber. "This won't help our case at Kinnaber as slow-worms are only afforded the same protection in law as common lizards, but it would certainly raise the profile of Kinnaber as a very special jewel in the Angus crown." The slow-worm can be found in almost any open or semi-open habitat. It likes warmth but instead of basking in the open sun it prefers to hide under a stone, log or piece of discarded rubbish such as a sheet of corrugated iron or plank of wood exposed to the sun. Slow-worms are also keen on compost heaps where they find warmth and plenty of food. They feed on slow moving prey, particularly small slugs, and are protected by law in Britain against being killed, injured or sold or traded in any way. The cycle path, linking Montrose to Northwater viaduct, cuts through common lizard habitat, one of the few remaining lowland populations of the species in Angus. Continued...

Angus & The Mearns

Stay of execution for Montrose lizards

April 18 2011

The race to save lizards from being crushed by diggers working on a £229,000 Angus cycle path has been given more time. Work on the cycle path is causing problems for the lizard population at Montrose, with it set to cut through one of the few remaining lowland populations of the species in Angus. Friends of Angus Herpetofauna (FAH) are embarking on a rescue mission to move wild lizards from the Kinnaber area of the town to areas which will be unaffected by the work. Contractors have moved in to clear out the gorse scrub and excavation work was set to begin today. However, the starting date has now been put back, giving volunteers more time to remove the lizards. Trevor Rose from FAH said, "There has been a further reprieve for the lizards. I'd like to think this is for our benefit, but I am told the contractor has other work elsewhere. We have at least until Monday, April 25, to keep searching." The cycle path, linking Montrose to Northwater viaduct, cuts through common lizard habitat. Work had already started near to the viaduct when Mr Rose noticed that construction workers' storage units had been placed on the Kinnaber Moor section of the planned cycle path. Mr Rose contacted the council's roads department and arranged to meet the engineer in charge of the works. Plans revealed the proposed route for the cycle path was the line of the old railway, a raised embankment covered in gorse scrub, long since abandoned and now home to hundreds of common lizards. As common lizards are protected against intentional killing and injuring, the council was obliged to accommodate mitigation measures. Image used under a Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user Squeezyboy.

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

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Save the lizards! Montrose cycle path work puts protected species at risk

March 30 2011

People in Montrose are being urged to help save lizards from being crushed or buried during the construction of a £229,000 cycle path. Trevor Rose of Friends of Angus Herpetofauna is seeking volunteers to capture any lizards which may be nesting behind the dunes at Kinnaber. The path and cycleway stretches from Montrose to the Northwater Viaduct to create an off-road path for cyclists and pedestrians. The path will begin in Broomfield, Montrose, and will be incorporated into land at the former airfield and land at Kinnaber before joining on to the path at the southern end of the viaduct. From the north end of the viaduct the cycleway will follow the public road to St Cyrus to become part of the designated Sustrans national cycle route and the North Sea Cycle Route. Mr Rose said, "This is an area populated by good numbers of common lizards, a species which ... is protected against intentional killing and injuring." Mr Rose has been in last-minute discussions with Angus Council and visited the site with Mark Davidson from the engineering and design services division. "We have discussed mitigation measures for the lizards which involves regularly checking artificial refugia and removing any lizards found to other parts of the common," he said. "It may also involve walking in front of the excavators when the time comes, to capture any remaining lizards which may or may not be fleeing from the disturbance." Mr Rose can be reached on 07778 830192. Photo by Flickr user Squeezyboy.

Angus & The Mearns

Group goes lizard-combing before diggers move in at Kinnaber

April 27 2011

Conservationists battling to save lizards in Montrose will today walk in front of diggers when excavation work begins on a £229,000 cycle path. Trevor Rose of Friends of Angus Herpetofauna will be on the site in Kinnaber along with ecologist Carol Littlewood, ranger George Addison and Sally Young from Angus Council. He said, "We are being allowed to monitor the process in the hope of finding some more lizards. After that our task is complete. "I do think some of the resident lizards will have removed themselves due to the disturbance so far, which is good. There are certainly a lot less sightings now than before. "One fear though is that the lizards may have been exposed to crows, rooks and other predators, but we are mostly theorising since we can't be on the ground full-time to monitor the situation. "I do think we have been successful in terms of raising awareness to Angus Council, and influencing the route of the path to some extent. "Less successful has been the actual capture and relocation of lizards, but we had not expected great success with such short notice." The path and cycleway stretches from Montrose to the Northwater Viaduct to create an off-road route for cyclists and pedestrians. The path will begin in Broomfield, Montrose, and be incorporated into land at the former airfield and land at Kinnaber before joining on to the path at the southern end of the viaduct. From the north end of the viaduct, the cycleway will follow the public road to St Cyrus to become part of the Sustrans national cycle route and North Sea Cycle Route. Mr Rose added, "Partly good news is that the new path itself will be based towards the west of the old railway embankment, rather than along the centre. "This means only the gorse to the west facing side of the embankment will be removed, leaving a strip of gorse to the east facing side untouched. "It seems our efforts are at least influencing what happens with the site, so many thanks again for your involvement which has been key to persuading Angus Council that there is an issue needing addressed." Kinnaber Moor is a site of around 200 hectares with populations of common lizards throughout. As common lizards are protected against intentional killing and injuring, the council were obliged to accommodate mitigation measures. A council ranger was recruited by the local authority to lay refugia on the proposed construction site a strip approximately 500m long and 10m wide.

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

Dundee

Dundee water tests go swimmingly

September 2 2013

There were only two failures out of almost 3,500 tests of the quality of the public water supply in Dundee last year, the industry watchdog has revealed. The Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR), which is responsible for overseeing Scottish Water’s work in sourcing, treating and distributing supplies to consumers, has published data for 2012 showing 3,491 water samples were taken in the city. These were often from household taps to check for the presence of potentially harmful bacteria such as E coli and metals such as iron, lead and manganese. Only one of the 144 samples checked for coliform bacteria failed. The DWQR said: “They are common in the environment and do not necessarily indicate faecal contamination, but should not be present in the water supply as they are readily deactivated by chlorine, which is added in controlled amounts to all of Scottish Water’s supplies. “The greatest risk to public health is associated with the consumption of drinking water that is contaminated with faecal material. “Many raw water sources contain significant levels of bacteria, which serves to demonstrate the importance of adequate treatment, especially disinfection, in order to ensure our water is safe to drink.” The failed Dundee sample was among 61 found across Scotland during 2012. “Scottish Water has increased its efforts in investigating failures at consumers’ taps during the past year and this improved understanding of the root causes of microbiological failures needs to result in proactive action to reduce the number of samples containing coliforms,” the regulator said. There were 152 samples from the city’s water supply tested for iron, with a single failure that exceeded the limit of 200 microgrammes per litre. There are no health risks from such a failure. The DWQR said: “The most common cause of failures of the iron standard at consumer taps is corroding cast iron water mains.” The tests had no failures for aluminium, manganese or lead, or for E coli or chemicals called trihalomethanes. The colour, cloudiness and acidity of the test samples also met the required standards. The overall pass rate for the water samples from the city’s public supply was 99.94%.

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