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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…

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

Licence sought to dredge greater amount from Arbroath harbour

April 27 2016

Angus Council is seeking a licence to dredge a greater amount of silt to keep Arbroath’s flagship marina as clear as possible. Shearwater Dredging Ltd has been awarded the contract to remove 12,000 cubic metres of silt from the inner and outer harbours as well as the navigational channel. They are expected to be in place as soon as the licence is in place and consent has been granted by the Crown Estate Commissioners. Arbroath councillor Bob Spink said: “Dredging is necessary to keep the harbour as clear and navigable as possible to allow us to maintain the high level of amenity the harbour enjoys. “As long as we have tides and winds we will have silt. What we must do is always be aware that we must keep check on the silt and seek the most environmentally friendly means of its disposal and at an affordable cost. “This is what Marine Scotland and Angus Council are bound by law to do thus the testing and checking which will no doubt be registered in the bigger picture. “We are seeking a licence to dredge a greater amount of silt for the current level is proving to be insufficient to allow us to keep the harbour as clear as we are finding necessary to service the growing number of vessels of all types using the harbour and I still expect us to be successful in our application.” Marine Scotland are yet to approve a new three-year licence to dispose of dredged material at sea. As part of the licence application a Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) report and chemical analysis of the silt within the harbour was carried out. The results of the chemical analysis found a high content of metals such as chromium, copper, nickel and zinc. This is giving Marine Scotland cause for concern and they requested that further chemical analysis and particle size analysis was carried out on more samples of silt. The BPEO has also had to be updated to reflect the results of all the additional analysis and to reinforce that dumping at sea is the optimum proposal for disposal of the silt. Mr Spink added: “All test results have gone to Marine Scotland and we await their response. “We certainly do not anticipate any refusal of our licence to dredge the harbour. “They, and we, are bound by law to seek the BPEO for disposal of the dredged silt. “I suspect that other similar harbours may produce the same results. “Dredging has been carried out at Arbroath harbour for as long as I can remember. “I was born and brought up at 1 Shore just a streets width away from the dock where our own dredger, the Fairport, was permanent ally  moored and at a time when Arbroath had a large fishing fleet as well as regularly visiting coasters shipping cement, potatoes, lime etc.” The waiting list for pontoon berths currently stands at 40 names. Six pontoon berths will remain as visitor berths; the remaining 53 berths will be occupied as annual berths.

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.

Readers' letters

November 26: Fleming great tale from history

November 26 2012

Today’s letters to The Courier. Sir, – Re: George Gavine’s letter on Thursday about Ian Fleming’s grandfather, Robert, the famous merchant banker, who came from Lochee: I wish to point out that the story does not stop or start there, but in the Highlands beyond Blairgowrie. Ian Fleming’s great-great grandfather, also called Robert, was the farmer of Middleton of Dalrulzion, at the foot of Glenshee, in the early 1800s. His son, John, started a lint mill on the River Isla above Coupar Angus in 1840, but his business failed. John moved to Lochee where he worked as a department overseer at Tay Works for £1 a week. Robert, the future merchant banker, was born there in 1845. He first made his money out of jute used for sandbags in the American Civil War. His younger brother became Lord Provost of Aberdeen and was knighted. Five siblings died of the croup. Robert’s neighbours from the Craigton of Dalrulzion also moved to Dundee and became fellow directors with Robert Fleming in the Matador Company, another Dundee-led venture, the fourth-largest cattle ranch in the United States. It is interesting how Dundee businessmen directed financial concerns in USA, and world-wide, at that time; behind their humble beginnings in the jute mills sometimes lay a farming background as “Highland cousins”, speaking Gaelic in their childhood. Returning to Ian Fleming, the author, he has certainly caught the world’s imagination but I have to admit I prefer John Buchan! Hamish Robertson.Princeland Road, Coupar Angus. Dredging a way to avoid more misery Sir, – As a lifelong proponent of good land management and a keen observer of the River Tay, which is one of the boundaries of my farm, I feel now is the time to examine in some detail the regulatory powers enacted upon us all by Sepa and, if necessary, curtail them. Whilst I accept some regulation is necessary and in some cases even desirable, surely environmental concerns should be broadened to include the effects on those householders who are ever more frequently subjected to the flooding, and sometimes even destruction, of their homes. If the regulatory authority was compelled to allow the dredging of river beds, as happened historically on my stretch of the Tay before the practice was prohibited, this would at a stroke achieve more water-carrying capacity and be instantly achievable. The only requirement would be a larger excavator. Dredging of built-up banks of mobile gravel deposits, in my view, is a more immediate, practical and cost-effective way of alleviating much human misery. It achieves savings in time and expense with emergency services and avoids delays inherent in studying, designing and constructing above-ground riverbank flood prevention measures. Alistair Henderson.Wester Carse Farm, Aberfeldy. Planners must be answerableSir, – I have just read the government reporter’s findings regarding Green Cat energy and West Coast’s appeal against Fife Council’s refusal of the bid to build a windfarm on Clatto Hill. His very professional and unbiased report listed the many reasons why this area of Fife is not suitable for developments of this scale. The question has to be asked: how could the head men in the planning department get it so wrong by advising that these developments be approved? If they managed to get these two applications so badly wrong, what about the Earls Seat, Little Raith and Kinglassie Westfield windfarm approvals we are stuck with? Norman Nicholson.Devon Farm Cottage,Cults Road, by Kennoway. Independence a taxing issue Sir, – I see Alex Salmond has called for the vote on independence to be held in 2014, exactly 700 years since the Battle of Bannockburn. It will be interesting to see if he calls for the vote to be held on June 24 the day of the battle and play on the “Bannockburn factor” in the hope of influencing the more impressionable voters. This is also the reason he is considering giving the vote to 16-year-olds who are either still in school or have just left and have neither the maturity nor the experience of life in the real world to make this momentous decision, which will affect Scotland forever. It’s time some folk woke up and realised that, in our small country with just 5.2 million people, there are just not enough taxpayers to support the needs of a modern country. Thomas Pairman.Bells Wynd,Kingsbarns. Memories of colder times Sir, – Re: your article “Stay warm advice not based on reality”, I am old enough to remember heating during the Second World War. My grammar school had to be kept at 60F. We kept our living-room at 60F, but there was no heat in the rest of the house quite normal in those days, war or no war. We came to no harm! Mary Smith.Silver End Cottage,Maryburgh, Blairadam. 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. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

Perth & Kinross

£870K work to secure future of Perth Harbour

February 18 2017

A major dredging operation on the River Tay will be a “game changer” for Perth Harbour, bosses have claimed. The £870,000 project which is expected to get under way this summer will unlock the port to larger vessels. The harbour’s future was thrown into doubt last year when it lost its biggest customer, animal feed giant EWOS Ltd, which moved its business to Grangemouth. Perth and Kinross Council got to work on a business strategy after councillors voted to retain ownership of the docks. Local authority chiefs were warned by harbour business owners that without major investment, the asset could be lost for good. Next week, councillors will be told that a deal has been struck for the first phase of work to dredge the port to five metres, just over 16ft. Scope work is expected to be completed by the end of May, while a tender contract for the job should be issued sometime next month. Dredging is scheduled to start at the beginning of June and should be completed by the end of August. A report by council investment manager Serge Merone said the harbour has also been boosted by a deal with construction firm Balfour Beatty, which is bringing material for the new A9/A85 junction in through the harbour. Mr Merone said that the harbour was now being promoted in specialist directories such as the Ports of Scotland Year Book. Ross Howie, who operates the harbour’s Calport shipping service, said that, after years of uncertainty, the port was now looking toward a brighter future. “The imminent dredging programme is hugely exciting for all of Perth’s port users, in particular Calport which handles the bulk of all goods which are delivered and dispatched from the harbour quays,” he said. “It has been a long time in coming to fruition, but we applaud the council for standing by their promise to increase the available draft of water. “This will help encourage larger users and bigger ships but crucially it will allow the current coaster ships of around 1,500 tonnes cargo to reach Perth on almost any day of a given month.” Mr Howie said: “This is a game changer for the port and will allow us to market the excellent geographical location which Perth offers.” He went on to praise new harbourmaster John Taylor, who he described as “very proactive”. “We are working closely with him and his team to bring new customers and product to the port,” Mr Howie said. Dredging will also bolster the council’s plan to transform the Tay into a busy thoroughfare for water taxis and leisure cruises.

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

Perth & Kinross

Calmac Ferries to strike deal to take control of troubled Perth harbour

April 23 2018

CalMac Ferries is poised to strike a £700K deal to take control of troubled Perth harbour, The Courier can reveal. The once-thriving port was left facing an uncertain future after a dramatic downturn in visiting vessels. Perth and Kinross Council, which owns the facility, hope that CalMac Ferries will be able to reverse its fortunes. However, a planned £870,000 dredging operation — which some say is crucial to the harbour's future — now faces opposition from energy giants Shell and Ineos. Both companies say the work, aimed at unlocking the port to larger vessels, could put ships at risk of grounding. The companies argue that they have an agreement with the Crown Estates to prevent any dredging at Perth. Councillors will this week be asked to accept an offer from preferred bidder CalMac Ferries. The company is expected to take over the harbourmaster's  responsibilities for at least five years and will be tasked with developing new commercial opportunities. A joint report by interim head of economic development Tom Flanagan and investment manager Serge Merone states the harbour — which has debts of more than £1.2 million — is making a net loss of nearly £230,000. A 2016 business plan for the port proposed that nearly £1 million of investment was needed — including dredging — to make the harbour break even by 2021. However, experts warned that if the business plan wasn't revised, the harbour would be unlikely to recover its costs before 2034, if at all. The report states: "CalMac Ferries Ltd has a proven track record in the provision of harbour, port, marine and ferry services across Scotland and the UK and currently operate out of more than 50 ports. "CalMac will utilise the full extend of its existing marketing, commercial and business expertise to identify key areas for development and expansion to maximum benefit to the operation." The council said it will postpone making a decision on dredging until a Marine Scotland licence is in place and a contract for the work has been put out to tender. Both Shell and Ineos argued that removing soil from the top of their pipelines could increase risk of grounding for larger vessels. The companies say a Crown Estates agreement forbids any dredging work. The local authority intends to fire back a "robust response" highlighting that the council was granted a dredging licence in the past, and that the pipelines were installed on the understanding that it would not limit the commercial use of the River Tay.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Readers' letters

Housing a possible cause of flooding?

January 7 2013

Sir, While I have a great deal of sympathy for those poor unfortunate folk in Stonehaven who were flooded out after the recent rainfall, some for the second time in three years, I feel suing the Aberdeenshire Council is perhaps hitting only one target in all of this. A friend of mine who lives in the town makes a valid point when he says that flooding has become worse since the housing development at Braehead, high above the town, was completed. This begs the question, where do the storm drains from this development deposit their contents? Into the River Carron? One would hope not but if this is the case, this could result in a sudden upsurge of water affecting the river level and thus cause the flooding. Before the houses were built there would have been a slow, natural seepage of rain water into the ground and only when the fields became sodden would it exit downhill towards the river and the town. So perhaps the affected residents should be directing their ire at those members of the planning committee who passed the plans to build at Braehead plus the developer who built the houses. Robert T Smith. 30 Braeside Terrace, Aberdeen. New year, new hope same old service Sir, Standing on a cold, grey, wet Commercial Street in Dundee city centre on January 2, waiting in vain for a number 4 bus to forgotten Dryburgh, I began to reminisce about the good old days way back in 2012 when the bus could be depended on depended on to be late or not appear at all, that is. When the all-pervasive smell of humanity mixed with the aroma of stale tobacco, stale beer, carry out meals and plain old-fashioned BO could stifle one’s every breath on the bus. When the ear was assaulted by oral inanities, swear words and great announcements into mobile phones. We were treated in 2012 to some of the grumpiest drivers ever experienced who looked at you as if you were something the cat brought in, especially if you showed them a day saver. That is if they even acknowledged your existence. Ah, 2012, when we learnt exactly what the words “public service” or “bus service” really stood for. It obviously means, as we now know: “We will be there for you as long as we can make money out of you. If we can’t, then goodbye.” It means: “Even if we announce record profits for 2012 we will still want more from you in 2013. So we intend milking you for every penny you have and the local government can’t touch us.” We enter a new year with confidence, with energy and excitement. Out with the old and in with the new. I, for one, begin 2013 with much hope and expectation…whilst standing waiting in the cold for a number 4 bus that did not arrive. Arthur Gall. 14D Pitalpin Court, Dundee. Not sure they have it right Sir, The health police rant on about the life-shortening dangers of carrying excess weight but looking round my golf club and recalling my parish funerals I am not so sure. I am certain I buried just as many rake-thin parishioners as heavyweights before their three score years and ten. Yet another US report advocates being a tad above one’s body mass index and I have stuck it with a magnet to the fridge door in the hope of convincing “she who must be obeyed”. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews. A compromise is needed Sir, Re the letter from GM Lindsay (January 3), I suggest that Mr Lindsay pops into his local SEPA office where he would find out why councils and landowners are no longer legally allowed to carry out dredging of river beds. The practice, which was common for centuries, allowed the dredged material to be used for various local metalled road projects, building work and let the water flow freely, thereby preventing or reducing flooding. Does he remember the Harry Ford which daily dredged the Tay and its cargo of Tay soft sand which was in demand all over by builders and greenkeepers for its quality? They are all things and jobs of the past which are no longer allowed by SEPA in the interests of river wildlife habitats. A compromise needs to be achieved between SEPA and councils in river and water management. Andrew Stirrat. Rhynd, Perth. Local councils had it covered Sir, I fully agree with the letter from James C T Angus (December 29). In the days of the local councils, dredging or clearing debris and vegetation from streams and watercourses took place on a regular basis during the summer months, which enabled any excess water from rainfall or melting snow to clear away without any flooding or disruption. One only needs to look at any watercourse and they will find them littered with fallen branches, leaves and rubbish. Another example of where basic common sense has disappeared to make way for “job creation” legislation! John McDonald. 14 Rosebery Court, Kirkcaldy.