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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...

Perth & Kinross

Latest refusal leaves Grundon with few options

August 22 2013

The decision to refuse an appeal regarding a controversial plan for a waste-to-energy facility may have sounded its death knell. The Courier has learned that there are now only two options available to Grundon Waste Management following the decision by Dannie Onn, the Scottish Government’s reporter for the directorate for planning and environmental appeals, to dismiss the company’s appeal for the facility at Shore Road, Perth. Grundon is yet to decide on its next move in what has been one of the longest-running planning sagas seen in Perth. Politicians have expressed their delight at the decision to turn the appeal down and the Scottish Government outlined the two options now available to the Oxfordshire-based company. A spokesman told The Courier: “If Grundon think there has been wrongdoing they can approach the ombudsman. The only other option would be to submit a fresh application to Perth and Kinross Council and this would involve a changed plan, taking on board the recommendations from the Scottish Government reporter.” A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said the decision by Mr Onn was regarded as “concluding” the matter from a planning perspective. “This should conclude the process unless Grundon’s legal team seek a judicial review, which is a matter for them,” she said. Andrew Short, Grundon’s estates director, said the firm would now consider its position in terms of their “next steps”. A public inquiry in Perth in November/December was hosted by Mr Onn. In his report issued earlier this week outlining the reasons for his refusal of the appeal, he concluded that the plan for the waste-to-energy facility would lead to “excessive noise” in the evening for residents. He also found that “detailed measures” for the control of noise, dust and other forms of potential pollution had not been satisfactorily addressed at appeal. In his report, Mr Onn stated: “The urban location of the appeal site is sensitive to the introduction of a large-scale plant. The risk of harm to the amenity of those living nearby is greater than it would be with a smaller facility or a more open location. “The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) remains unconvinced that a licence could be granted for the facility as proposed here. “It may be that a plant of the scale and type proposed could be shown to be acceptable, but the design before me has not evolved sufficiently to be sure that it could.” The decision was warmly welcomed by a host of politicians, including Roseanna Cunningham, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire. She declared the move “good news for all of Perth”. “Shore Road may be just outside my constituency but pollutant fumes are no respecters of boundaries,” she said. “The views of the people of Perth have been made clear and have been upheld in the face of Grundon’s continued appeals This whole saga has dragged on long enough it is time to move on.” John Swinney, MSP for North Tayside,said: “This is the correct decision based on compelling evidence that this development would be harmful to the locality and the local population. I hope that the company will now accept the decision and this project will proceed no further.”

Perth & Kinross

Grundon incinerator plan for Perth ‘in ashes’ after Scottish Government refusal

August 20 2013

Jubilant locals have hailed the rejection of a controversial waste to energy plant planned for Perth. The latest twist in the long-running saga saw a Scottish Government reporter turn down an appeal by Grundon Waste Management for the proposed site in Shore Road. Furious locals had rounded on the company, claiming its complex would pollute Perth with smoke and noise and leave an 80-metre chimney stack dominating the Fair City skyline. In a tortuous planning tale, Oxfordshire-based Grundon were given outline planning permission by Perth and Kinross Council in 2006. An initial plan for a 34-metre chimney was rejected in December 2009, and a subsequent appeal was dismissed in November 2010. A second application was knocked back by the local authority in February 2012, which led to Grundon appealing to the Scottish Government’s directorate for planning and environmental appeals. Labelled a “pollution-belching monstrosity” by Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart, the proposal met a wave of local objections including Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). The Scottish Prison Service even claimed inmates at Perth Prison could have rioted over the noise and vibration from the plant. An eight-day public inquiry was held in Perth last winter and, following months of waiting, reporter Dannie Onn finally revealed he had decided against the scheme. In his report, Mr Onn states: “I find that the living conditions at Perth Prison and nearby houses would be harmed by excessive noise at night-time. “The potential impact on public health is a matter for Sepa. However, Sepa is not convinced that the proposed facility could be consented. “This is a material planning consideration and adds weight to my findings on the issue of harm to living conditions.” Mr Onn also found that “detailed measures” for the control of noise, dust and other forms of potential pollution have not been satisfactorily addressed at appeal. Leading protester Councillor Peter Barrett told The Courier that “this is the result the whole of Perth has been waiting for.” He added: “The incinerator saga has finally burned out and Grundon’s horrendous scheme for Perth is now in ashes. “A small but tireless and dedicated group mobilised the opposition of thousands of Perth residents to ensure that the council and the Scottish Government knew exactly how strongly people felt about the threat that the incinerator posed to our city centre, our environment and our future.” He continued: “Grundon tried to baffle us with science and they failed. They would have left our city much the poorer literally under a cloud for decades.” Mr Wishart said he hoped this means the end of the matter. He said: “The application, even in its amended version, would have dominated the city skyline and was completely inappropriate for a site so close to the city centre. “The people of Perth made their views on this issue perfectly clear, the council stood by them and now that decision has been backed up by the Scottish ministers.” Councillor Heather Stewart said she was “relieved” at the decision and Councillor Ian Miller, leader of Perth and Kinross Council, described it as “very good news” for Perth and its environment. Grundon’s estates director Andrew Short said the company regarded it as a “missed opportunity” for both Perth and Scotland and said the firm would now consider its position. “This facility would have made a significant contribution to the local economy in terms of both wealth and employment creation,” he claimed.

Perth & Kinross

D-day is looming for Perth incinerator

April 2 2013

The most eagerly-awaited Perth planning decision for a generation will be revealed this month. Objectors to the controversial gasification plant proposed for Shore Road have been told to expect the outcome of an inquiry to be made public in around two weeks. Those findings will then be placed before Scottish Ministers who will make the final decision. The application by Grundon Waste Management to build a waste to energy facility sparked outrage among local people and a concerted, organised campaign of opposition was mounted. An eight-day public inquiry was held last year because of the controversy and potential environmental implications, where the depth of public feeling was laid bare. Perth and Kinross Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the local community and Perth Prison management all vehemently opposed the scheme. The Scottish Prison Service claimed that constant noise and vibrations from a plant sited yards from C Block of the Edinburgh Road prison could cause prisoners to protest, refuse to work or even assault staff. If granted permission, the facility would see tonnes of rubbish treated every day, leading to fears of pollution. A decision from Scottish Government reporter Dannie Onn had been expected in March, but the sheer amount of information and objections lodged during the inquiry delayed the outcome. The directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals confirmed the timescale, saying: “Following an eight-day inquiry, the reporter appointed by ministers is carefully considering all of the information before him and he anticipates at this stage that he will produce a report with recommendations by mid-April in order for the final decision to be taken by Scottish Ministers in due course.” Councillor Peter Barrett is confident that, having examined the evidence, the reporter will reject the application. “It has been a long, frustrating and worrying wait since last May for the outcome of Grundon’s planning appeal,” said Mr Barrett. “Frankly, this is an appeal that everyone could have done without and which shouldn’t have been inflicted on the community. There is no justification for this incinerator on this site. “Everyone, from SEPA to the Bridgend, Gannochy and Kinnoull Community Council and the thousands of objectors, can see it would cause huge problems of noise and odour to the prison and surrounding residents, it’s far too big for the site and far too close. “Grundon have seemed hell-bent on pursuing a big profit, prize blinded to reason and with no regard to commonsense. “They have gambled big-time that the outline consent was worth kings and aces. But all they’ve ever had is a pair of twos and a strong arm. When they’re finally forced to quit the last chance saloon, I am sure that the whole of Perth will be waiting to wave them goodbye.” The council maintained that the proposed site occupied an important location overlooking the River Tay and a development which offered environmental enhancement would be more in keeping with its position close to the South Inch, the prison and the river.

Perth & Kinross

Waste plant inquiry ends

December 7 2012

AN INQUIRY into a controversial waste incinerator proposed for Perth reached its final stage yesterday with a visit to the planned site. Grundon Waste Management’s second appeal against Perth and Kinross Council’s rejection of its revised energy from waste facility at Shore Road, Perth, led to the public inquiry, with all interested parties putting forward witnesses to speak on the matter. Previously described as a “smoke belching monstrosity” by Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, Grundon’s original proposal was for a £100 million incinerator that included an 80-metre chimney. That plan was refused by the local authority and then also by a Scottish Government reporter in 2010. The Oxfordshire company then returned with a revised plan in July 2011 and this was submitted to the council in March this year. However, council members again refused it on the basis of concerns about odour, noise and the over-development of the site. Grundon subsequently appealed this to the Directorate for Planning and Environment Protection Agency and this led to the public inquiry, which was held at the Station Hotel in Perth. The company had been granted outline planning permission to build a waste-to-energy plant on the site in 2006. However, it soon emerged that this had taken place without the knowledge of senior management or councillors. Grundon has claimed that the facility would generate 11MWh of steam and hot water for direct export to nearby buildings and 16MW of electricity enough to power 28,000 households to be sold to the National Grid. A spokesperson for the Scottish Government yesterday said: “Scottish Ministers recalled the appeal for their own determination on November 22 because of the significant public interest and potential environmental implications. “The eight-day inquiry is expected to conclude today. “The reporter will carefully consider all of the information before him and will produce a report with recommendations in order for the final decision to be taken by Scottish Ministers in due course.” preoch@thecourier.co.uk

Readers' letters

Power down the turbines and think again

May 7 2013

Sir, Your leader article on Saturday Countryside under pressure carries entirely false assertions and assumptions about wind turbines reducing the country’s carbon footprint and meeting all of Scotland’s energy needs from “green” sources. A recent report from Edinburgh University, by Hughes et al., reveals that wind-sourced electricity’s ability to reduce CO2 output is negligible and, based on unchallenged data from the NETA website, which monitors electricity generation from the various sources, the power output from the c.2000 windmills in Scotland is, likewise, trivial, at usually well under 3% of the total. Moreover, in relatively windless cold weather, their output falls to zero. Thus, Scotland’s land and finances are being despoiled by an ineffective power-generation policy that, intothe bargain, transfers vast sums of our money to the already rich, landowners, developers and foreign manufacturers. We need, in the UK and Scotland, a complete overhaul of power policies, based on expert electrical engineering advice, not politicians’ failed schemes. Dr Charles Wardrop. 111 Viewlands Road West, Perth. ‘Self-interest’ in fair city is a burning issue Sir, The most remarkable thing about Grundon’s appeal to the Scottish Government against refusal of planning permission for a waste incinerator in Perth was the decision by Scottish Ministers to “recall” the appeal so that they could make the final ruling. Over the past few years there have been at least five similar appeals involving waste incinerators. However, in each case Scottish ministers have left the final decision to an official in the department of planning and environmental appeals known as theplanning reporter. The difference this time is that Perth is the power base of three of the SNP’s biggest hitters: John Swinney, Pete Wishart and RoseannaCunningham. As such, the SNP Government cannot afford to allow Grundon’s appeal to succeed. The move by the SNP Government was made even more necessary by the choice of planning reporter: Dannie Onn, who gave his approval for an incinerator in Invergordon in 2010. In that decision, Mr Onn acknowledged that incinerators undoubtedly cause pollution and could not be regarded as a long-term solution on the road to zero waste. However, he added that incinerators would be needed until people could be relied on to recycle their waste properly. By deciding to make the final ruling over the Perth incinerator, the SNPGovernment has already laid itself open to a charge of inconsistency and self-interest and of abandoning other communities fighting against incinerator proposals. This will only be amplified if the planning reporter recommends approval of the incinerator but ministerssubsequently reject it. Michael Gallagher. Green Alternatives toIncineration in Scotland, 33 Precinct Street, Coupar Angus. Why we speak in tongues Sir, I refer to “English and maths more needed” (Friday’s Letters). The claim that learning other languages is a “waste of time” because English is the “almost universal language” really takes the biscuit. I very strongly disagree that we should drop foreign language teaching; even Latin and ancient Greek are not a waste of time because these languages, along with French, have contributed the most to English. Besides, learning another language helps to keep alzheimer’s disease at bay and makes us think more about grammar, something which is, regrettably, disappearing from English. Is this what makes English so attractive to speakers of other languages? They must think we can say things any way we like without bothering about grammar. Our spelling system, which causes problems even for native speakers and is the reason for weekly spelling and dictation tests at school, completely undoes the benefit of simplifying our grammar by removing the variety of verb conjugations, subjunctive moods, noun and adjective declensions, grammatical gender, agreement between nouns and adjectives and other features which are found in many other languages. I have heard Spanish is likely to replace English as the universal language in the near future. Spanish may have more grammar than English but, although not completely phonetic, its spelling system poses far fewer problems than ours, so would it not be a better idea to adopt Spanish as the world language instead? John Devlin. 57 Blackwood Court, Glamis Road, Dundee. Council tax and culture Sir, May I ask why the SNP-led Dundee City Council have put in a bid to be UK City of Culture in 2017 when, by that time, they hope to be in a separate Scotland? I can at least understand Aberdeen City Council bidding, as their administration is a coalition of Unionist parties. The organisers will have every right to reject Dundee’s bid out of hand. What a waste of council tax-payers’ money. Joan Chalmers. 13 Bayfield Gardens, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

Perth & Kinross

Death blow for Grundon waste-to-energy plant

November 2 2013

Campaigners who fought a waste to energy plant on Perth’s waterfront are celebrating news that the controversial plan is finally dead. The window of opportunity for Grundon Waste Management to appeal against a refusal by the Scottish ministers has passed, allowing protesters to breathe a sigh of relief. The people of Perth were praised for their steadfast opposition to the Shore Road project. Council leader Ian Miller said: “The community groups and individuals who stood against this deserve praise and congratulations for seeing this lengthy process through to a conclusion. “It is rare to see such a widespread and united opposition to any proposal that comes to our council. “From the man in the street, right up to our MP, MSPs and councillors, we saw a united front in opposing the application and it has ultimately paid off. I could not be more delighted.” Councillor Peter Barrett, who has been a vociferous opponent of the plan, said it was “great news for Perth and the final nail in the Shore Road incinerator’s coffin”. “Everyone I have spoken to is delighted that the incinerator plan is gone for good,” he said. “The relief has been palpable, the only things people want to see burning on the Shore Road are the annual Guy Fawkes bonfire and fireworks. “Once again I would like to thank everyone who campaigned to stop the incinerator. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to the local residents, community councils and civic groups who objected to the application and fought for its opposition. “It has been a war of attrition and, finally, those efforts have paid off. “I am sure that Grundon’s only interest in Perth was because of the almost fatal mistake the council made in awarding outline planning consent to the Shore Road site and, thankfully, that consent has expired. “Combine that with the two previous refusals and two failed appeals for Shore Road and the chances of anyone pursuing that particular site have to be so remote as to be negligible. They’d have to be daft to try again.” The tortuous planning tale started when Oxfordshire-based Grundon was given outline planning permission by Perth and Kinross Council in 2006. An initial plan was rejected in December 2009 and a subsequent appeal was dismissed in November 2010. A second application was knocked back by the local authority in February 2012, which led to Grundon appealing to the Scottish Government’s directorate for planning and environmental appeals. Labelled a “pollution-belching monstrosity” by Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart, the proposal met a wave of local objectors, including Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). The Scottish Prison Service even claimed inmates at Perth Prison could have rioted over the noise and vibration from the plant. An eight-day public inquiry was held in Perth in December last year and, following months of waiting, reporter Dannie Onn finally revealed that he had decided against the scheme. The council confirmed the application has reached the end of the road. “The original outline planning consent for the incinerator has now lapsed as a consequence of the initial and subsequent applications for the approval of details both having been refused by the council and then by the Scottish Government after two appeals,” said a spokesman. “Therefore, there is no longer an outline consent relating to the site. If the applicants, Grundon Waste Management Ltd, wished to pursue a further proposal, they would have to reapply to the council. “Any such application would then be assessed taking into account the decisions of the Scottish Government Reporter.” Efforts to obtain a statement from Grundon were unsuccessful.

Perth & Kinross

Council warned it will have to be in for the long haul to defeat Grundon incinerator plan

February 8 2011

A former council chief has urged current leaders to stay strong in the face of renewed pressure from the company bidding to erect an incinerator in the heart of Perth. Grundon Waste Management declared its intention late last month to submit a fresh planning application for a site on the town's Shore Road. While the details have yet to be confirmed, Grundon is in the process of "assessing alternative technologies and plant designs" for the site. And the firm is likely to return to Perth and Kinross Council's planning chiefs with new proposals by May. Keen to ensure it does not succeed in "bludgeoning" its way through local opposition is former council chief executive James Cormie, who has previously criticised the local authority for not "grasping the nettle" and revoking outline planning permission. He has now written to every elected member on Perth and Kinross Council calling on them not to waver in their opposition to plans for Shore Road and including a copy of a newspaper article on the "lack of fairness" in the planning system. The article quotes the celebrated playwright, screenwriter and author Alan Bennett, who in his diary in the London Review of Books, writes, "The planning process is and always has been weighted against objectors, who, even if they succeed in postponing a development, have to must their forces afresh when the developer and architect come up with a slightly modified scheme and so on until the developer wins by a process of attrition." Mr Cormie said that "as the spectre of a refuse incinerator at Shore Road was once again rearing its ugly head," it was vital that the local authority considers the experience of other communities and of other developments. "Time after time I have seen developers submit repeated applications for development each just some modification of the original until the council feel bludgeoned into giving permission," Mr Cormie said. "It is vital to the future of the city of Perth that this does not happen here." Perth and Kinross Council declined to comment on Mr Cormie's plea. Photo by Flickr user eastleighbusman.

Perth & Kinross

Public inquiry opens to decide fate of Grundon Waste Management’s Perth plan

November 26 2012

Perth faces D-day over plans for a controversial waste treatment plant in the city. Starting today, a local public inquiry in the Station Hotel over the next fortnight will examine whether Grundon Waste Management's multi-million-pound waste-to-energy plant can be built on Shore Road. The planning process for the compound set between the South Inch and River Tay is one of the lengthiest to ever dog the Fair City. The public inquiry was triggered after Perth and Kinross Council turned down the Oxford-based company's second bid to construct an industrial-scale waste disposal facility. With a towering 100-foot high chimney stack, it has been labelled a ''pollution-belching monstrosity'', although Grundon insist this is a misrepresentation. It has met with an unprecedented level of public objection over fears it could blight the environmentally-important landscape and prove a health hazard to the thousands of residents around the site. There are concerns it will spread pollutants across the city as it treats thousands of tonnes of rubbish with a gasification process. Nearby Perth Prison has also objected, claiming the continual noise and vibration from the plant could lead to enough unrest among inmates to spark riots. There are also concerns about the ability of the roads network to cope with hundreds of lorries continually delivering landfill rubbish from across the country. Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency are both against the plan. Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart said: ''The people of Perth are sick and tired of this application. I just wish that Grundon would listen to and respect the message that they have already been given loud and clear. ''This pollution-belching monstrosity is not wanted in any shape or form in our Fair City.'' City centre councillor Peter Barrett warned this ''D-Day'' should be the last time the people of Perth should be subjected to such an application. He said: ''The fight against the incinerator and Grundon's planning application has been a war of attrition and the efforts of Perth residents to safeguard our city have been huge. ''Churchill would have commended their blood, sweat, toil and tears. The planning appeal marks the beginning of the end of this battle and the last battle is the important one to win. ''I am confident that Grundon will be sent homeward, not to think again, but never to return.'' Grundon already have outline permission for a recycling plant at the current Holden Environmental premises. It was granted in 2006 with the council officer unaware of the extent of the plans. To confuse matters further, the council owns part of the ground Grundon wants to build on. The company insists the centre will deal with landfill rubbish, while producing enough energy to power thousands of homes. The inquiry will be heard by Scottish government reporter Dannie Onn. Sessions will cover noise impact, odour and air quality, conditions and landscape and visual impact. arichardson@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

Incinerator firm Grundon urged to ‘pack their bags’ and leave Perth

July 22 2011

A call has been made by Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, for a company behind a £100 million waste incinerator to "pack their bags and go." Oxfordshire firm Grundon Waste Management were granted outline planning permission to build a waste-to-energy plant on the site at Shore Road, Perth, in 2006. However, over the coming months it became evident the relevant permission had been granted without knowledge of senior management or councillors. It was discovered outline planning permission had been passed in error by council planners and has never been rescinded. It has been estimated that to do so could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. The original plans would have seen an 80-foot chimney dominate the Perth skyline. The council then rejected the reserved matters application and the Scottish Government similarly threw it out in terms which left little room for appeal in November. Grundon recently submitted revised plans which have reduced the height of the chimney stack and a new advanced plasma power gasification technology, rather than the burning of waste. The plans have raised the ire of some residents, with Bridgend, Kinnoull and Gannochy Community Council slamming the proposal.'They are not wanted'On Thursday Mr Wishart accused the company of trying to make a "silk purse out of a sow's ear" and urged them to "pack their bags and go." "Grundon have to realise that the public opposition to their plans is not a question of aesthetics," he told The Courier. "They will not win us over by lowering the height of the stacks or altering the change of the buildings." He added, "As for Grundon themselves, I am appealing to them one more time to accept that this is the wrong scheme, in the wrong place and they are not wanted in Perth. "It is time for them to recognise reality, pack their bags and go." Mr Wishart said, "They will not win any friends by trying to foist a development onto the people of Perth that is so manifestly not wanted. "We need to make sure that the opposition to their plans is properly registered and I want everyone out there to be very aware that signing a petition is not enough." He added,"According to planning rules a petition against any proposal is only taken as one objection, regardless of how many signatures it might have. "Petitions have their place as a campaigning tool but to have this application rejected we need the opposition to be heard in a meaningful way. "We need to get individual letters of objection in to the council on this issue and I urge everyone who is concerned about these plans to get their representations in while there is still time."'Not an argument we can win'A Grundon spokeswoman said that the company do not "get involved" in responding to comments from politicians, whether from a local or national level. "We have a difficult agenda and do not get involved in this," she said. "It is not an argument we can win. "Our policy is to present the facts and let other people do the emotion." Robert Nicholson, Grundon's director of estates, said the revised proposals will fit comfortably within the setting of the site and will not result in any unacceptable landscape and visual impact. He claims that the designed development poses no significant adverse impacts on environmental resources or the local communities. Mr Nicholson said, "We have gone out of our way to design a plant with minimal visual impact. "In response to feedback on the previous application, the main change is the choice of the two-stage, advanced gasification technology for the 90,000 tonnes a year plant." Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user eastleighbusman.