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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…


Water taxis could ferry visitors if Forth Bridge gains world heritage status

June 14 2014

Water taxis could be used to ferry the flood of visitors expected in Fife if the Forth Bridge gains world heritage status next year. Hopes are high the Victorian bridge, which will celebrate its 125th birthday next year, will join the likes of the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China on the map of the world’s most revered and historic sites. And Fife Council is making plans to ensure the infrastructure is in place to cope with the anticipated influx of visitors. The outcome of the Forth Bridges Forum submission to Unesco is expected in the summer of 2015. It is widely acknowledged that there can be significant economic benefits to the area around such a site. As part of the bid, there was extensive public consultation and while the response was broadly positive, there were some concerns about the potentially negative impact on the local communities if hordes of tourists were to descend. A Forth Bridge world heritage economic benefit officer working group was set up by the council to plan for a successful bid. It will also look at the other tourism developments which will increase the number of visitors to North Queensferry. They include: * Network Rail’s ambitious plans for a world-class visitor centre on the bridge. * A gateway visitor centre and/or a digital visitor information kiosk at North Queensferry. * North Queensferry Heritage Trust’s plans to develop the railway station waiting rooms to provide a meeting space, caf, visitor information area and toilets. * A heritage trail which will incorporate the bridge, Queensferry light tower and Beamer Rock lighthouse which will be re-sited by North Queensferry Trust. * FETA and Queensferry Ambition’s Forth Bridges Festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Forth road bridge later this year. * An orientation and signage strategy for North and South Queensferry developed by Queensferry Ambition. Given these plans, south west Fife councillors heard there will be an economic boost, but also extra pressure when it comes to traffic and car parking. The working group is taking steps to identify the impact and possible solutions. To get traffic off the roads, the group is looking at improvements to North Queensferry’s town pier to take water taxis or launches for the international cruise ships which berth in the Forth and possible sites for park and ride centres. It is also looking at tourist accommodation and facilities for visitors. Discussions have also taken place with the City of Edinburgh Council to develop a CARS (conservation area regeneration scheme) bid for both Queensferries. Councillor Dave Dempsey said the decision would coincide with significant work to link the new road network approaching the new Queensferry Crossing with the existing network. But Fife’s strategic policy and tourism manager Sandra Montador-Stewart said alternative forms of transport into the area would be looked into. “Cars would be the last option, we are looking at water-borne transport, public transport and walking trails,” she concluded.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show – now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) – a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.


Forth Bridge could join the Pyramids on world list

May 12 2010

Hopes are high that the iconic Forth Bridge may soon join the elite list of world heritage sites. North Queensferry SNP councillor Douglas Chapman has welcomed news that Fife Council is preparing an application to have the 120-year-old rail bridge recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site. If the bid is successful it will put the bridge on a par with the Pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China. Mr Chapman said, “The world heritage site accolade brings profile-raising status. “Should we get the Forth Bridge accepted onto the list, the opportunities for more tourism in Fife and other benefits are huge.” He said the bridge has a special place in the hearts of locals as it represented the gateway to Fife and was also a “fabulous symbol” of Scottish engineering. The bridge, the world’s first major steel bridge, was put forward for world heritage status in 1999 by the then Scottish Executive. Now the chance has come again and Fife Council is to spearhead the bid, which is believed to be supported by the Forth Bridges Visitor Trust, North Queensferry Heritage Trust, City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government. The chance to be recognised by UNESCO only comes up every 10 years and the first stage is to be put on the tentative list. Nominations close on June 11.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o’ the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. © SuppliedTayside musician Eddie Cairney Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It’s just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there’s nothing here I can write about but there’s always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o’ the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” © PAQueensferry Crossing Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song “He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal” Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.”   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. “If you forget your piece you’ve had it and you starve for there’s no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was “midday salvation”! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” © SuppliedEddie Cairney Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Perth & Kinross

Plans to reinstate water power at historic castle

March 9 2013

A BID to bring back a hydroelectric scheme which once powered Blair Castle has been laid before council planners. The Croft Comrie Burn Diversion was originally created in 1908 to provide power for the Highland Perthshire castle and several properties on Atholl Estate. The estate trustees say that the re-establishment of the scheme will significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Agents for the estate, Campbell of Doune Ltd, said: “We should make it clear that this scheme does not involve the laying of significant length of new pipeline, due to the fact that the pipeline already exists, ready for use. “The required civil engineering works really are a light touch on the landscape, which enjoys the concerned and sensitive environmental stewardship of our client. “The trustees are forward-thinking and keen to reduce the carbon footprint of the trust’s activities. “The trustees foresee the small amount of civil engineering works required to bring the hydroelectric generation scheme back into production as of substantial benefit to one of Highland Perthshire’s largest visitor attractions, and of benefit to the nation as a whole through the generation of renewable electricity.” Atholl Estates originally built an aqueduct to carry water from the River Tilt tributary, Allt Slanaidh burn, to a holdingdam above Blairuachdar to supply a water-powered sawmill. Under the 8th Duke of Atholl, a hydroelectric turbine was installed in 1908 on the bank of the Banvie Burn, supplied by the holding dam. The pipeline still acts as a water feed for the castle’s fire hydrants. The original turbine house still exists and is said to be in generally reasonable physical condition, although the original Gordon and Gilkes turbine will be replaced with another of the same make to get the system up and running. The Kendal-based company has been making small hydro power systems since 1856 and has supplied more than 6,500 turbines to more than 80 countries. The estate already operates a pair of run-of-river hydroelectric schemes, opened in June last year. The systems one on the Dowally Burn with storage on Loch Ordie, and the other on the Broom Burn have a collectivegenerating capacity of almost 1MW, enough to power more than 250 homes. Other recent planning applications lodged with Perth and Kinross Council include: Alterations and extension to house and garage/barn, 5 Holding, Leadketty, Dunning Hutton. Erection of house (in principle), land 70m north-east of Cleish Mains Steading, Cleish Karen Fraser. Erection of house, plot next to 26 Holdings Coltward, Campmuir Peter Brown. Alterations and extension and erection of retaining wall, Littlerigg, Dunning Glen, Dollar Donald Turnbull. Erection of two signs, the Gateway Centre, North Methven Street, Perth PKAVS. Alterations and extension, Tulliegruggie, Tippermallo Road, Methven Ramsay. Alterations and extension to the Meadows, Vicar’s Bridge Road, Blairingone Fred Saunders. Alterations and extension, 4 Athollbank Drive, Perth Louise Cowling. Erection of a garden shed, 23 Hill Street, Crieff Brendan Gisby. Alterations and extension, Gowanlea, Pier Road, Kinross Stuart Brand. Erection of house (Approval of matters in condition 12/00284/IPL), land 350m north-east of Shieldrum Farm, Bridge Of Cally Ferguson and Thomson. Modification of consent (11/01989/FLL) Amendment to condition 1, East Cult Farm, Dunkeld the Trustees of the Eighth Earl Cadogan’s Settlement. Alterations and extension, Balhomie Farm Cottage, Cargill Shand Partnership Ltd. Erection of house, Teviot Dale, College Road, Methven Marshall. Modification of consent (10/01598/FLL) change of house type, Viewfield Cottage, Brucefield Road, Blairgowrie GS Brown Construction Ltd. arichardson@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

Tayside faces missing out on Roman heritage attraction

December 14 2012

THE BATTLE to create a national Roman centre in Tayside could be lost at the Antonine Wall, it has been revealed. Historic Scotland is investigating creating of a major tourism attraction, capable of attracting millions of visitors each year to the World Heritage Site. A soon-to-be-published, five-year management plan will investigate the viability of creating a visitor centre on the wall, which runs for 37 miles from the north side of the River Clyde to Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth. It would tap into the country’s Roman heritage and its plethora of historic sites and increase understanding of the role the invaders played in the shaping of the nation. The creation of such a centre could, however, also signal an end to the fight for a national centre to be situated in Perthshire. The region boasts Rome’s first land frontier in the Gask ridge system, together with some of Scotland’s best-preserved forts and watch towers. For years there has been a small but vocal campaign, led by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, to see that developed to bring visitors to the area and educate the nation’s youth. Speaking to The Courier, however, Historic Scotland’s Patricia Weeks said the Antonine Wall would be the focus of the organisation’s efforts for the foreseeable future. The creation of a visitor centre together with alternative proposals for investment in smaller museums already operated along the wall will be the subject of extensive consultation over the next five years. “We will be looking at ways in which we can develop the World Heritage Site and better contextualise the wall in terms of the Gask Ridge and the marching camps across the country,” Ms Weeks said. “Within a difficult economic climate, there will be a lot of work carried out to improve signage and interpretation boards and are also committing to an options appraisal that will look at the creation of a centralised visitor centre, among other proposals. “We are consulting with the five councils that border the wall West and East Dunbartonshire, North Lanark, Falkirk and Glasgow City and with other interested parties. “There has been significant support for the idea of a visitor centre, while some of the existing historical societies would like to see their own centres upgraded.” A draft consultation document could be published by the spring, when the public will be given the opportunity to comment on the various proposals. Mr Fraser said he would continue to make his case to the Scottish Government as he believes the potential financial and educational benefits to Perthshire of a National Roman Centre are “immense”. Nonetheless, he admitted he was “not surprised” to see others pushing for the creation of a visitor centre on the Antonine Wall. “As one of the last frontiers of the Roman Empire, the Antonine Wall has tremendous international appeal and as such has been granted World Heritage Status,” he said. “Perthshire does however boast some of the best Roman sites in Britain, including forts at Ardoch and Inchtuthill. “Scotland has a rich Roman history and I believe that a national centre has the potential to re-engage pupils and adults in one of the most fascinating periods of our history. “My preference would still be for such a Roman centre to be situated in Perthshire.” Angus already draws significant benefit from the presence of the Pictavia Centre, which tells the story of Scotland’s inhabitants during the first millenium AD.


The Forth could bridge the gap to global icons

August 29 2017

The Forth could rival San Francisco, Sydney and London by becoming a top destination for bridge tourism, according to VisitScotland. The tourism organisation believes the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing, which stands alongside the Forth Road Bridge and world heritage site Forth Bridge, could see the area emulate the success of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tower Bridge. These landmarks all regularly attract millions of visitors every year. This week, Scotland enters the history books as the only place in the world to boast three bridges spanning three centuries in one location. As the world’s longest three-tower cable stayed bridge, the Queensferry Crossing is a feat of modern engineering. It will make it easier for local, national and international visitors to travel across the east of the country. Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Queensferry Crossing is about to join its two neighbours in the ranks as one of the world’s most iconic bridges, a national must see for visitors to Scotland. “The people of Scotland will take this new bridge to their hearts and we invite the world to join in celebrating its opening as a celebration of the magnificent feats of innovation, engineering and construction, but also the history and heritage of the three bridges and surrounding areas. “By successfully attracting people to the area, we are working with other bodies to ensure that local communities, businesses and attractions are able to capitalise on this increased level of interest to their benefit.” Scotland is home to a range of bridges, many of which were designed by Scots or built by Scottish construction companies. VisitScotland is currently trying to find the nation’s favourite. The Forth Bridge has emerged as an early title contender, closely followed by the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which played a starring role in the Harry Potter films. VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Bridges, such as the Queensferry Crossing, are a lasting reminder of a nation’s engineering expertise and never fail to attract global interest.” He added the new bridge marked Scotland’s place in history as the only destination in the world to boast such a remarkable trilogy. “This is undoubtedly a golden opportunity for tourism and the chance for Scotland to become a global destination for bridge tourism.” Scotland’s bridges From their beauty or breathtaking engineering prowess, Scotland’s bridges each have their own story to tell. Some of Scotland’s most recognisable structures include: The Forth Bridge, which enjoys the same status at the Taj Mahal and Great Wall of China as an UNESCO world heritage site. Glenfinnan Viaduct, which stars in the Harry Potter film series as it carries the Hogwarts Express to the magical school. Brig o’Doon, famed for its appearance in Robert Burns’ epic Tam O’Shanter. Clyde Arc, or otherwise known as the Squinty Bridge because of its twisted arch. Clachan Bridge, which is better known by the much grander title, Bridge over the Atlantic. Carrbridge Packhorse Bridge which is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year. The Kylesku Bridge, a continuous concrete curse which crosses Loch a’Chairn Bhain. Tay Road Bridge, connecting Fife with Dundee. Leaderfoot Viaduct which carried the Berwickshire railway over the Tweed. Swilcan Bridge, an iconic part of golfing history at the Old Course in St Andrews. To cast a vote for visit https://community.visitscotland.com/discussion/1135/your-favourite-scottish-bridges


Concerns over Forth Bridge world heritage site bid

March 13 2013

Villagers at both sides of the Forth Bridge fear they are not ready to play host to a Unesco world heritage site. A bid is being prepared to secure the designation for the rail bridge, which was opened in 1890 and is one of the world’s most impressive feats of engineering. But both North Queensferry and South Queensferry community councils said their villages lacked the infrastructure required to accommodate an influx of tourists. Christina McKenzie, from North Queensferry Community Council, said: “It really is a concern for the people of North Queensferry. We don’t have the infrastructure in the village to handle lots of visitors. In particular, North Queensferry has parking issues just with the residents who live here.” Ms McKenzie also called for the picnic area at the north cantilever to be reopened. The area has been closed for years while Network Rail carry out maintenance on the bridge. “They are going to have to tidy up the area if they are going for world heritage status. It’s a mess.” On the other side of the Forth, Queensferry and District Community Council secretary Terry Airlie said: “It’s a double-edged sword. In principle, world heritage seems like a good idea but there are concerns about infrastructure. There are a lot of issues locally, in terms of facilities and in terms of parking. “I have no doubt that something can be done. Something will have to be done. They have been talking about the number of projected visitors in five to 10 years’ time, and South Queensferry struggles at the moment.” Mr Airlie added that Historic Scotland and Network Rail had been invited to speak at a public meeting, to discuss the world heritage site bid, on March 25. Overseeing the bid is the Forth Bridge World Heritage Nomination Steering Group, which is a sub-group of the Forth Bridges Forum and includes community representatives. Rebanks Consulting was commissioned to carry out a study of the potential benefits world heritage status would bring. This included a consultation with residents, who highlighted the issues of car parking and increased tourism. It is understood the consultants aim to address these in a draft management plan to be consulted on this summer. A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Forth road and rail bridges are already well recognised icons of Scotland and offer some of our most breathtaking images. “We are keen to build on the high level of public interest from home and abroad in the existing structures and the Forth Replacement Crossing, which has attracted over 7,600 suggestions via the ‘name the bridge’ process. “The Forth Bridges Forum is managed by Transport Scotland, on behalf of Scottish ministers, to ensure that local stakeholders remain at the core of the management and operation of the Forth bridges. “In addition, it provides a mechanism for promoting the location of the bridges as a unique tourist destination. “Membership includes senior officials from Transport Scotland, Network Rail, FETA (Forth Estuary Transport Authority), City of Edinburgh Council, Fife Council, West Lothian Council, Historic Scotland and Visit Scotland. “The forum is of the view that there is a market for a visitor attraction centred on the three Forth bridges, and will look at options for encouraging potential tourists to make a Forth bridges visitor attraction a must-see, must-do experience. “Before committing too deeply to any specific ideas, it is essential that some analysis is undertaken and the technical feasibility of ideas are further explored.” A Network Rail spokesman said: “The repainting and refurbishing of the Forth Bridge has been completed but we are still carrying out other work on the bridge. The area beneath the north cantilever remains cordoned off as it is still being used by our staff as part of their activities. “Once the space is no longer required we will restore it to public use.”

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