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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

Salmon netting returns to the River Tay after two decades

September 10 2011

Two decades after it was stopped, salmon netting has returned to the River Tay. However, before fishermen dust off their equipment, the strict rules regarding netting have only been relaxed as part of a tag and release programme to monitor stocks. The only people who will be allowed to use nets on the stretch of the water near Kinfauns are volunteers participating in the project, led by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board. To establish the link between salmon numbers and rod catches, the Almondbank organisation is conducting a study over the next few weeks. The fish will be tagged at the point of entry to the river before being released and anglers will then be asked to report any tagged salmon they catch. They should take a note of the tag number and report it to the Tay Foundation or fisheries board on 01738 583733. The board also asks that, where possible, these fish are released to see if they are caught again. A similar study takes place every year on the River Tweed and has revealed that fewer than 10% of fish are recaptured, although the amount caught has increased since the 1990s when netting stopped on the Tay. Among the few to re-familiarise themselves with the lost art is David Gardiner, who has 30 years” fishing experience and works for Tay Salmon Fishery Company, which is playing a pivotal role in the project. He told The Courier this week: “Because of my experience, I was approached to help out with this project as most anglers these days are only used to fishing with rods. “We have just started work on this and have already had two or three days out on the river trying to catch some fish.” He added: “So far we”ve only caught a couple as the bottom of the river is quite clogged up with weeds and debris, but hopefully this will get cleared over time. “We are gradually getting places cleaned out with the nets, so we should start picking up a bit more fish.” There are plans to carry out the netting programme until a couple of weeks before the rod season ends in October, to give anglers the chance to catch the tagged fish and report them. This will then provide information on how many salmon are being caught on the river and how far they have travelled. However Mr Gardiner said that the time given to the fisheries board to complete their project has been limited due to the arduous process of gaining permission from the proper authorities. He said: “Ideally we should have started this in June or July, but by the time we were given permission and had the necessary paperwork sorted it was getting on for the end of August. “If it is decided to repeat this next season, we should be a bit more organised and will be able to get going earlier. Obviously, I would be quite keen to be a part of that and help the board out.” Salmon fishing has long been important to the Tay. For over 500 years the fish were caught using a net and coble before being exported across the world. However, the latter part of the 19th century was characterised by increasing anti-netting sentiment among landowners. The fisheries company was established in 1899 to control the practice by buying up fishing rights along the estuary and sea coast. Netting continued for nearly another 100 years until salmon numbers began to fall. In 1996 the last of the fisheries company nets ceased operating when the Tay Foundation obtained a 99-year lease of the net fishings.

Angus & The Mearns

U-turn over controversial South Esk salmon fishing extension

February 5 2013

A controversial Scottish Government decision to extend salmon netting in the South Esk area has been reversed. However Scotland’s largest salmon netting company, which has been at the centre of the issue, said it has “no issues” and “fully accepts” the U-turn. In August, ministers granted Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd a three-year licence to net salmon at its coastal stations south of Montrose for two weeks in September. This has now been revoked. One of the firm’s directors, George Pullar, told The Courier: “We fully accept the decision of the Scottish Government to revoke the licence on the basis that the research was no longer required as part of the South Esk Project. “We understood that the nature of the licence was that it could be revoked at any time and, therefore, have no issues with the decision.” The extension was to compensate the fishery for disruption caused by Marine Scotland Science’s access “to fish and genetic samples during the commercial fishery season” for tagging research. As the netting season ends on August 31 the government’s decision came in for criticism from anglers and from some conservation bodies. The Esk District Salmon Fisheries Board sought a judicial review of the decision to grant the licence, due to be heard this month. Former board chairman Hughie Campbell Adamson was head of the body when the review was sought. He said: “The Scottish Government’s capitulation, together with its undertaking to pay the board’s costs, vindicates entirely the EDSFB’s decision to go for judicial review. “I hope that we can all now move on and never again allow politics and prejudice to jeopardise wild salmon conservation. “The latter must take priority whether it is in the context of salmon netting on the east coast or the unsustainable increase in salmon farming on the west coast. “I would especially like to thank the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) and the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board for their invaluable support.” The River South Esk is a Special Area of Conservation for Atlantic salmon. Conservationists argue the district’s netting operations are closely linked to salmon numbers, not only in the South and North Esks but also in the Tay. Esk Rivers and Fisheries Trust chairman Tom Sampson said: “The Government’s reversal of its decision is indeed welcome. “No increased exploitation of salmon, in the context of today’s limited marine survival levels, can be justified.”

Perth & Kinross

Perth author wading into salmon netting debate with new book

February 5 2014

A retired Perth lecturer’s latest book is a timely addition to the long-running debate over the impact of salmon netting on Scotland’s fish stocks. The fruit of 10 years of research and writing, the Salmon Fishers by Iain Robertson has just been published to great acclaim from those interested in the debate. When First Minister Alex Salmond opened the fishing season on the river Tay last month, he was besieged with calls from anglers to curb salmon netting to protect stocks. A former economics lecturer at Perth College, Mr Robertson’s interest in the subject was formed by his experiences as a young man on the Tay. “When I was a student in the 1970s I worked with the Tay Salmon Fisheries and became interested,” the 78-year-old said. For hundreds of years the netting of salmon was big business, with railway wagon-loads of fish heading down from Perth to Billingsgate market in London. That netting operation ceased after an agreement, but various others remain around Scotland, notably Usan, south of Montrose. Mr Robertson is adamant he is not biased in the debate. “I am not an angler and not a netsman, I am not a member of either camp,” he said. “I try to be dispassionate but I think the netsmen have a case that has been obliterated by the large number of anglers who have a louder voice. I would just like people to be better informed.” Mr Robertson’s research took him to archives from Wick to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Of particular help was the extensive archive associated with the now defunct firm of Joseph Johnston and Sons, of Montrose. His book is the first history of Scottish netting, and the Salmon Fishers shows the extent to which the fisheries became a way of life, integral and essential to the wellbeing of communities around the Scottish coasts. The book also deals with the Atlantic salmon as an example of a common resource subject to exploitation by competing interests. The Salmon Fishers is published by Medlar Press, priced £30.

Angus & The Mearns

Scottish Government accused of ‘failure to protect salmon stocks’ on South Esk

December 22 2011

An Angus angling club has lodged a legal complaint against the Scottish Government over its ”failure to protect salmon stocks.” In an unprecedented move, Brechin Angling Club (Brechin AC), supported by the Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA), has submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission over the government’s failure to protect salmon stocks in the River South Esk Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This follows the government’s decision to extend the salmon netting season into September and reject proposed conservation measures to delay the start of the netting season for five years. The complaint, prepared by lawyer Guy Linley-Adams, cites numerous breaches by the Scottish Government in relation to the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive in protecting salmon in the South Esk not only in relation to spring salmon stocks but also later running fish that it says will be impacted by the ”unparalleled proposal by Scottish Government to extend netting into September.” In addition, the complaint identifies the Scottish Government’s general failure to ”establish appropriate management plans specifically designed for those SACs designated for Atlantic salmon to address the particular threat posed by mixed stock fisheries.” Byron Pace, spokesman for Brechin AC, said: ”From our perspective, we could not, in all good conscience, sit on our hands, as the sustainable future of the South Esk came under this increased threat; to do so would have been irresponsible and unforgivable. ”Due to the Scottish Government’s dismissal of the proposed conservation measures, we have been forced to take this to Europe, in the hope we can prevent the damaging effects of increased netting on an already fragile water course.” The complaint has been filed in conjunction with the Salmon Trout Association and S&TA CEO Paul Knight said it views the case as an example of ”a national malaise.” He said: ”It is indicative of a lamentable lack of political commitment to protect a wild natural resource in line with our international obligations.” Mr Linley-Adams added: ”The Scottish Government has placed far too much emphasis on the interference in the property rights of the netsmen and not enough on its obligations to protect the South Esk SAC’s spring salmon stocks. ”I believe the European Commission will follow long-established European, and indeed UK, law that has repeatedly confirmed that the private property rights of individuals are subject to the wider need to conserve species and habitats in the wider public interest.” Unanimous dismay at the government’s decision was expressed during a packed public meeting in Brechin in October attended by more than 100 people, including representatives of all major wild fish interests and local angling associations. A statement issued by the Esk District Salmon Fishery Board (DSFB) following the meeting prompted a furious response from a Montrose fishery business. The BAC claimed Usan Salmon Fisheries was being allowed by the government to ”kill even more fish” as a reward for its co-operation with Marine Science Scotland’s research programme. Usan director George Pullar said the firm was ”appalled by the negative content” of the statement issued by the DSFB. He said: ”The age of the Highland clearances is over and the working man has a say we are here to stay.” Mr Pullar said the current legal season runs from February 16 to August 31, while the angling season extends to October 31 which he described as ”a far longer period of exploitation than our own.” He said the recently declared angling catches for 2010 were in excess of 110,000 salmon and grilse, the highest since records began in 1952. A Scottish government spokesman said: ”Ministers have asked Marine Scotland officials to discuss with the net fisheries in the River South Esk arrangements for accessing genetic samples and fish for tagging and release for tracking. “This is with a view to a possible licensed ‘catch and retain’ fishery from September 1-14 until 2012. Such a fishery would enable access to a reasonable sample of fish and genetic material throughout the commercial net fishing season to inform Marine Scotland Science’s (MSS) statutory investigation of wild salmon and sea trout stocks. ”A number of points are being investigated regarding how this will operate. MSS have provided advice on potential conditions for a possible licensed September net fishery, including advice on the number of fish that might be taken. ”We are still considering that advice and will be consulting other advisers including SNH given the River South Esk’s status as a SAC. ”Furthermore, ministers have decided that they will maintain the existing restriction on the net fishery so that the start of the net fishery will be put back from February 16 to May 1 2012, for a further period of three years. ”This delay in the start of the net fishery has been in place for seven years and provides a measure of protection for the early running salmon in the South Esk. This is additional to the annual close season and weekly close times which apply to all net fisheries for salmon.”

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

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

£2 million transformation aims to secure future of Fisher’s Hotel for another 200 years

June 28 2017

One of Scotland’s most popular tourist hotels will undergo a £2 million renovation aimed at transforming it into a luxurious Highland haven. Fisher’s Hotel was damaged by fire on Hogmanay but its owners, The Castle Collection, say it will come back bigger and better than ever before. The extensive project will see a major refurbishment take place, together with the creation of 30 new rooms, giving a new room count of 140. Along with changes to the hotel interior, a new 150-cover restaurant will be unveiled, with the plan to create a “landmark” eating venue for the town. The new Castle Restaurant will include an indoor zen garden with a glass roof spanning all floors of the hotel for diners to admire. VIDEO: Major fire at Fisher’s Hotel in Pitlochry Brian Wishart, general manager of Fisher’s Hotel, said: “The hotel has a strong reputation and is rated as one of Pitlochry’s best hotels by visitors to Perthshire and this investment will allow us to enhance the fantastic experience we already offer. “The fire was a real catalyst in bringing the refurbishment project into fruition and our guests have been incredibly supportive of our efforts in ensuring the future of this iconic building. © DC ThomsonFire damage at Fisher’s Hotel at the start of the year. “A lot of planning has gone into the improvements, which are being carried out by tradesmen who are all local to the hotel and the area of Pitlochry. “Due to its age, everything has had to be replaced to an exacting standard to preserve the history of the building. “Our hotel offers a warm welcome to guests from all over the world and we are incredibly excited to future-proof Fisher’s Hotel so it can continue for another 200 years.” The hotel dates back to 1830 and has welcomed many famous faces, including Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1892 and world-renowned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Renovation work has been ongoing since January, with many period features being restored and reinstated, including fireplaces and its external façade. The £2 million extended refurbishment is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The hotel remains open for guests while renovations continue. It welcomed more than 75,000 visitors every year.

Perth & Kinross

Future of Perthshire salmon unclear as talks held with ‘benefactor’

February 14 2011

The future of an award-winning Perthshire research unit which helps ensure the future of salmon stocks on the River Tay is hanging in the balance. The Scottish Government has confirmed is closing the Fisheries Research Service unit at Almondbank, but talks are taking place between interested parties and a potential saviour of the facility. The Tay Ghillies Association, the Tay Foundation and the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board are all keen to see the research unit continue to operate. “A benefactor has expressed interest in helping to fund the unit,” said one of the participants in the talks. The future of the three people employed at Almondbank is unclear at the moment, while negotiations take place. A government spokesperson said, “Marine Scotland will cease to operate the Almondbank freshwater fisheries experimental station from spring this year. “The decision has come about as part of the wider initiative to ensure that all Scottish Government activity is properly aligned with our strategic objectives and the pressures resulting from the UK spending review.” They added, “No final decision on the future of the site has been taken.” The research unit is equipped to rear salmon at all life stages. An 80-metre indoor stream is used to study the behaviour of salmon and tag detectors allow the logging of tagged fish. The unit also reconditions Atlantic salmon after spawning and between 600,000 and 700,000 ova are produced from reconditioned kelts each year and used by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board as part of their restocking programme. The unit was the home of Dolly, a female salmon that they reconditioned 11 years running to make her the world’s oldest salmon. She was collected as a four-year-old and died aged 15 in 2003, having produced an estimated 90,000 offspringcompared with the 10,000 that an average salmon produces. Last year, at the River Tay Conservation and Awards Dinner, the Ballathie Award for Conservation went to Marine Scotland Science at Almondbank for their work in reconditioning salmon.

Perth & Kinross

Baby bargains galore at charity’s nearly new sale in Perth

October 20 2017

Baby bargains will be bought and sold at an event coming to Perth next weekend. The National Childbirth Trust’s nearly new sale will offer parents-to-be the chance to pick up pre-loved toys, clothes, equipment and maternity clothes at a big discount from shop prices. New parents will also have the chance to offload baby goods their little ones have outgrown by registering as sellers at the event. The sale is at the Bell’s sport centre between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Sunday October 29 and is being organised by the trust’s Perth and District Branch. Sellers keep 70% of the money raised, with the other 30% going to the charity’s work to support local families. NCT Perth and District volunteer Vicki Anyon said: “Coming to one of our nearly new sales is a double whammy – you can get pre-loved baby bargains and you help to fund the branch’s services for other parents too.” For more information and to register as a seller before the October 27 deadline, email NNS.Perth@nct.org.uk. You can also find out more at the local branch’s Facebook page. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); As it's less than a month to go to our next Nearly New Sale we thought we'd show you what to expect! All sellers drop their items off to us and then our lovely volunteers sort them out into categories and age/size to make it easy for you, the buyer, to find what you're looking for and to get the best bargains! Register here as a seller or turn up to Bell's Sports Centre on the 29th October at 11.30am to bag some brilliant bargains! And pick up a FREE goody bag packed with lovely samples for you and your family to enjoy. Seller registration – https://nct.intrabiz.co.uk/cgi-bin/sys.cgi?action=NCT-product-client_view&id=29940395 Posted by NCT Perth & District Branch on Friday, 30 September 2016

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