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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

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.

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.

Rocktalk

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. 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. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “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. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “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!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo 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.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “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. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 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.” 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs 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.

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.

UK & World

Bondage murderer admits Breaking Bad TV show inspired attempt to dispose of body in acid

November 14 2016

A Breaking Bad fan who strangled a police officer during a bondage sex session and tried to dispose of the body in an acid bath has been convicted of murder. Stefano Brizzi, 50, admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old Pc Gordon Semple by dissolving his flesh. Following an Old Bailey trial, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after the jury had deliberated for more than 30 hours. Brizzi, who gave no reaction as the jury delivered its verdict, will be sentenced on Friday, December 9. The court heard how the defendant met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a "hot dirty sleazy session" at his flat near London's Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing as part of a sex game slipped. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. In the days after the killing, crystal meth addict Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body and stripping the flesh. Meanwhile, Pc Semple's long-term partner Gary Meeks raised the alarm and reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, in Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi's flat and eventually called police who came across the grisly sight of "globules" of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Pc Semple's head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised the enormity of what they had found. The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat. Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of a policeman because "Satan told me to". During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr. Brizzi said: "I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him 'Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it's a mess'." The Italian also told police that he had "chucked" some of Pc Semple's body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings. A human foot was later found by a member of Thames Mudlark Club near Bermondsey Wall. The court heard that Brizzi was addicted to crystal meth, which had cost him his job at financial giant Morgan Stanley. He had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show "glorified" the drug. He told the group he believed in the Devil and liked satanic rituals and he bragged of his bondage sex encounters. In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple's DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible. Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors of the difficulties of being a gay man brought up in a religious Italian family. The youngest of three siblings, his Tuscan father was a civil servant and his uncle was a Catholic priest. He told jurors that Pc Semple died in a "state of erotic bliss". his lawyer, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, insisted he was no "monster" and could not have eaten Pc Semple's flesh as it was covered in chemicals. Throughout his evidence, Brizzi wept and cried out "I'm sorry" as he was confronted with what he had done. He had earlier admitted a charge of obstructing a coroner by disposing of the body. Pc Semple's brain and other internal organs have never been found.

Readers' letters

Perth should impose planning restrictions

October 31 2017

Sir, - Mr Roche of Perth wrote a very reasonable letter about the poor look of Perth during the day, while considerable monies are spent on lighting it up at night (October 28) and poor facades in the city centre is one of his expressed concerns. Perth lauds its heritage and culture and the city centre is a conservation area but, despite this, shop fronts in lurid colour schemes and cheap signage abound. Obviously, and disappointingly, this is not an issue for Perth and Kinross Council. The planning service has a conservation section and a conservation officer but with no overall vision for gracing shop facades with a palette of complementary heritage colours and quality signage. Each planning application is considered on its own merits, resulting in jarring and disharmonious effects inappropriate to a conservation area and allowing cheap and nasty frontages to sit cheek by jowl with shops which do invest in quality appearance. If the council did have a policy of applying quality colour and signage frontages when processing planning applications, Perth city centre would be transformed and Perth would be well on its way to being a daylight city of culture. Joan McEwen. King James Hospital Building, Hospital Street. Perth.   Flora will make her mark Sir, - I was pleased to read your report that local lady Flora Shedden has opened her bakery in Dunkeld. She will soon make an impact. As a regular visitor to this little town with its cathedral in the shadow of tree-clad hills, which give it an almost alpine feel, I am always amazed at the number of people who are drawn there. My wife and I live nearby and we enjoy its little restaurants and this new addition by a celebrated local girl will enhance the popularity and appeal of this Perthshire town. Thomas Brown. 3 Church Place, Bankfoot.   Apologise for Section 2a cash Sir, - We learn that Nicola Sturgeon is to apologise on behalf of the Scottish administration to gay men convicted of now-abolished sex offences. And rightly so. Would this also be a timely opportunity for Ms Sturgeon to express regret that her party and the independence movement has, in the past, accepted a number of significant donations from Brian Souter, chairman of Stagecoach? Sir Brian funded a high-profile campaign to keep Section 28 (or 2a in Scotland) in law. An apology for having formerly been bankrolled by Sir Brian may help the nationalist leader avoid accusations of double standards. Martin Redfern. Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh. Perth lights a vanity project Sir, - It was with disbelief and incredulity that I read your article in about a design team striking a £12 million deal to light up Perth. Like many streets in Perth over the last few years we have had our street lighting changed because we were told we had been overlit and that the council needed to save money on its street lighting. We now have dismal, dull, dreary and disturbingly dangerous lights . How galling that, as council tax payers, we have to put up with these pathetic lights yet the council has millions to spend on even more vanity projects. Mike Rogalski. 82 Feus Road, Perth.   Turbines will kill wildlife Sir, - I am fed up with the advertisements in The Courier making out the RSPB is a bad organisation doing lots of people out of work. It is only doing what is right regarding the gannets, guillemots, razor bills, fulmars and other seabirds, not forgetting migratory birds that will be devastated by these windfarms. These companies do not seem to care about Scottish wildlife, only pound signs. This is being railroaded through by the Greens and the SNP. The reason this area is so rich in wildlife is because of the shallow waters off Angus and Fife which are sought after by windfarm developers as they do not have the difficulties of deep water, so turbines are cheaper to install. Only idiots would try to build these in an area so diverse with wildlife and with a total disregard for sea birds. Fishermen in Fife and Angus are going to be forced off traditional fishing grounds, fished for hundreds of years. John Cargill. Twilight AH16, 6 Kaim’s Hill, Letham Grange, By Arbroath.   Smacking ban bid a distraction Sir, - Though it was the Green tail yet again wagging the nationalist dog, Nicola Sturgeon’s tiresome virtue signalling over the smacking ban is just a smokescreen for the SNP’s catastrophic record in key devolved areas like the police, health and education. After a decade of its overweening centralism, the state-knows-best approach characteristic of all intrusive nationalist governments abounds but current laws already protect children from physical abuse, though smacking (with caveats) is permitted. And it is absurd to suggest there’s no difference between a smack administered by a mother whose three-year-old tears away from her grip and runs into the road and the drunken assault of a stranger passing by in the street outside some sleazy Scottish bar. Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.   Where are the refugees? Sir, - Emergency repairs are being carried out at Bute House and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been moved into a hotel. It is not Ms Sturgeon I am worried about. What has happened to the Syrian refugee family she promised she would take into her home? Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow.

Readers' letters

March 24: No mention of impact these 100m-high turbines will have on local residents

March 24 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I refer to your article "Proposed windfarm will benefit community: claim" (March 21), regarding the proposed three-turbine windfarm north of the Binn Hill at Burntisland. I note with interest that the article concentrates on the supposed benefits to local communities and charities. There is no mention at all of the impact these 100m-high turbines will have on the local residents. There are four properties, mine included, all within 500m of one of these huge machines. Mr Wylie is quoted as saying that: "There is a fantastic wind resource here ... it's only right that it should be harvested for local benefits." Surprisingly, I, and others, don't agree with that statement. The local residents will have their quality of life totally destroyed by the installation of these turbines and all for what? Profit and greed. All, of course, supported by the ridiculous subsidies for wind generation, which we are all paying for in higher electricity bills. One of the serious problems with inappropriate siting of large wind turbines is the highly detrimental impact on local residents and it should be noted that Mr and Mrs Wylie's property is a considerable distance from the proposed locations. I wonder why this should be? I have noticed a recent increase in the number of articles in the press highlighting the downsides, and there are many, of huge wind turbines. I believe now that people are waking up to the folly that is current Scottish Government policy. This three-turbine windfarm will be resisted as robustly as possible. David W Potts.Hatton Cottage,Burntisland. Glad to help reduce the top tax rate Sir, - As one of the five million OAPs in the £10,500 and £28,000 bracket can I say how pleased I am to contribute to the £3 billion which will allow the top tax rate to be reduced? Only someone as unpatriotic as Winston Churchill would have given pensioners a higher personal tax allowance in 1925 and I am so relieved George Osborne has now binned it. It is such a blessing he has done nothing to improve the annuity market, to support ISA changes or to shelter older people's interest income from his quantitative easing. As long as richer pensioners are unaffected and the gold-plated pensions of public sector employees are protected what are a few stealth taxes among us private sector oldies? Could I suggest that to maintain company cars for health managers and chauffeur-driven limos for government ministers, he might consider withdrawing all bus passes? (Rev) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Party in Cloud Cuckoo land Sir, - They say a week is a long time in politics but how would they describe a year? Last summer, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: "Anyone who thinks we are going to shift our priority to reducing the tax burden for the wealthiest have got another thing coming ... Abolishing the 50p rate cannot be the right priority for the country." And yet after this week's budget that is precisely what has happened. Mr Alexander also suggested that anyone who thought they would cut the rate was living in "Cloud Cuckoo land". The only people living in Cloud Cuckoo land are in the Liberal Democratic Party, which refuses to believe the party has completely sold out. Kevin Cordell.2 Nevis Place,Broughty Ferry. No right to take so many fish Sir, - Some of the more outrageous statements by Usan Fisheries in Monday's Courier (Netting firm rejects claim) cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Mr Pullar of Usan claims his netting has no effect on salmon runs. Why, then, is it that whilst all the major east coast rivers have benefited from increased runs, the South Esk has not? It's no coincidence the runs of salmon have decreased at the same time his netting efforts have increased. He is right to say he has the right to kill fish. What he should not have is the right to kill fish in such numbers as to be greatly detrimental to others who have the right to fish. Bill Balfour.9 Cookston Crescent,Brechin. Isle of Man status claim? Sir - Reference David Clegg's concise article (March 21) on the situation regarding the Northern Isles' attitude to Scottish independence. The SNP response indicates either a lamentable lack of knowledge of Scotland's history, or a sneaking, arrogant hope the question would never arise. It is arising and indicates yet another strand of unnecessary discord between the perfectly acceptable status quo of our current political system I don't even see the need for a parliament in Edinburgh! and the troublesome, nitpicking, dangerous and blustery posturing of those politicians seeking independence for my and others' country. I suggest the Isles should seek similar status to that of the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. There's something for the SNP to ponder! A T Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes. Speed cameras Sir, - Why are the speed cameras not active on the stretch of road close to the Laurencekirk junctions? At £60 per offence, there is £180,000 a day waiting to be collected, or £65 millon pounds a year. Now, what was the cost of building a flyover? OK, I know there is a flaw somewhere in the logic, but there is no point in bleating about the speed of the traffic if the most obvious of control mechanisms is not used. Tom Reid.Cortachy Crescent,Kirriemuir. 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.

Readers' letters

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning's letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article 'Call for halt to beaver damage' (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar's letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife's fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

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