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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…

Fife

Stricken hill walker airlifted off Lomond Hills in Fife

September 25 2017

A woman is recovering after having to be airlifted off the Lomond Hills over the weekend, it has emerged. The alarm was raised shortly before 1pm on Sunday when the woman, who is said to be in her 60s, suffered a suspected broken ankle while out walking. Members of the Ochils Mountain Rescue Team, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Police Scotland and the Coastguard Rescue helicopter 199 from Prestwick were all called upon in the response, with the stricken hillwalker flown off the hill to a waiting ambulance. She was taken to Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital but is expected to make a full recovery. A spokesperson for the Ochils Mountain Rescue Team said: “We wish the lady a speedy recovery and thanks as always to R199 for some great flying.” (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')); The team was called out this afternoon as part of a multi agency response to help a lady with a leg injury in the Lomond… Posted by Ochils Mountain Rescue Team on Sunday, 24 September 2017

News

Police hunt naked Ochil hills walker

October 19 2013

Police are trying to track down a mysterious naked man who has been seen wandering in the Ochil hills. Just as scientists are uncovering the mystery behind the Himalayan yeti, Police Scotland are appealing for information about an equally elusive visitor to the hills north of the Forth Valley. There have been reported sightings of an unclothed man walking in the hills during the past couple of months. He has been spotted around the Dumyat peak in particular. A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Police in Forth Valley can confirm they are investigating and would urge anyone who can assist with our inquiries to come forward. “In addition, we are keen to trace this male and ask that he get in touch with police to discuss the full circumstances surrounding this matter.” Anyone with information, or who has seen the rambler, is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101. The nude stroller is not to be confused with Stephen Gough, the infamous Naked Rambler, who was remanded in custody south of the border last month. Gough who has previously been sentenced to more than six years in prison for his belief that it is his right to appear naked in public awaits trial for an alleged breach of an anti-social behaviour order. Rumours of the Ochils’ own naked rambler have been circulating for years, but the recent police appeal confirms that local officers are taking reported sightings seriously. The mystery behind the naked rambler of the Ochils has been compared to the search to find the Himalayan yeti. However, that mystery looks like it may have been solved after it was revealed this week that an Oxford University scientist has made a major breakthrough towards unravelling the legend. After DNA testing hair samples, Professor Bryan Sykes concluded the creature could have been a hybrid bear, related to the brown bear and a descendant of an ancient polar bear. A retired teacher posting on the Walkhighlands website gave an account of the Ochils rambler. He wrote: “The Himalayas have the yeti. Vancouver Island has Bigfoot. Whitburn has Susan Boyle. Glasgow has the teetotaller. Aberdeen has the “I insist on buying the first round” man. These are all the stuff of legends. “A less well-known mythical creature is the naked rambler of the Ochils (NROTO). He is not to be confused with the poor fellow locked up in Barlinnie at great cost to the taxpayer. “The existence of the NROTO was first brought to my attention by a Dumyat regular who said he had to stand aside to let him pass at a very narrow point on the path up from Menstrie. At this point the path is bordered by briars and nettles, so to stand aside was a very Christian thing to do. “However, one sighting is not enough. Yesterday proof positive was provided of the NROTO. Having gone up Dumyat from Menstrie and feeling relieved at not having to avoid the Highland coos, I got into conversation with a young couple who had their pre-teen sons with them. “Asking if the boys had enjoyed the walk, I was informed that they had enjoyed it very much, especially the conversation with the well-tanned naked man they had met on the way up from Sheriffmuir. “Apparently he was a most pleasant chap and warned them of the cold wind on top of Dumyat. Well, if anyone would know about cold wind it would be him! Whether or not he put on his clothes when reaching the Sheriffmuir road is not known.” * Have you seen the naked rambler of the Ochils? Contact The Courier at arobertson@thecourier.co.uk.

Outdoors

Friends of the Ochils takes stand against ‘industrialisation’ of Scotland’s hills

December 5 2011

An environmental group says it is ”incensed” at plans to build more wind turbines in the Ochil hills. Friends of the Ochils has condemned a trio of applications by Wind Prospect, amounting to a total of 18 new turbines in and around the existing Burnfoot Hill Windfarm. If successful, the company will be able to more than double its current 13-turbine presence in the area, on the Perth and Kinross/Clackmannanshire border. As well as two more turbines at Burnfoot itself, nine turbines will form a cluster, known as Rhodders, nearby, while a seven-turbine cluster would be created on Frandy Hill. Friends of the Ochils’ Malcolm Best said: ”We believe the Ochils are a critically important recreation area and clearly recognised as such by the significant funding the Heritage Lottery Fund has given to the Ochils Landscape Partnership. ”Clackmannanshire has already designated their part of the Ochils as an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and the Rhodders site is in the AGLV and while the other two are in Perth and Kinross, they will be highly visible from the AGLV. ”The erection of these turbines tears at the heart of the Ochils. The experience of climbing to the top of Ben Cleuch the highest peak in the Ochils will be fatally compromised for at least the next 25 years by the ridiculous number of turbines that will be on display from that peak.” He said the enjoyment of the hills is being ruined for walkers and climbers, many who make the relatively short journey from Edinburgh and Glasgow to enjoy the scenery. He said: ”From numerous viewpoints it is already possible to see several windfarms Burnfoot, Greenknowes, Braes of Doune and Lochelbank. ”Currently these windfarms at least appear as separate windfarms but filling in the gaps with Rhodders and Frandy Hill will make it look like one giant windfarm. ”The cumulative impact of all these windfarms will be a disaster as far as visitors, hill goers and local residents are concerned. ”In fact this development would turn the Ochils into a landscape of windfarms rather than a landscape of beautiful hills with some windfarms.” The group has warned another windfarm project between Auchterarder and Muthill is still in the pipeline, while the impending arrival of the Beauly to Denny power line pylons and proposed extension of quarrying activities in Glendevon will add to the ”industrialisation” of the hills. The plans are a scaled-down version of multinational renewable energy firm Wind Prospect’s original proposal for 22 turbines and follow a period of public consultation. The company’s Sarah Dooley said there is room for more turbines but acknowledged ”saturation” point may be reached in the Ochils in the future. She said: ”During the construction of Burnfoot Hill we established there was potentially scope for additional turbines in and around the area. There are other developers doing other things and there will get to a point where the Ochils reach saturation but that point hasn’t been reached yet. ”We’ve engaged with Friends of the Ochils form an early stage and given them the opportunity to comment but they don’t think it’s a suitable location for windfarm developments so there’s not much more we can do. ”But we will continue to speak to them for as long as the applications take to be determined and then in the future as well.” Photo by Flickr user Nick Bramhall

Perth & Kinross

A tree-mendous woodland effort by Perthshire company

August 7 2013

A leading Perthshire business is celebrating its support for the Woodland Trust by planting 405 trees. The trees represent the Highland Spring workers, with a tree being planted in the Ochil Hills for every employee. By planting hundreds of saplings, Highland Spring is helping the Woodland Trust reach its goal of doubling the UK’s native woodland cover by 2050 and protecting and nurturing Britain’s precious indigenous woodlands. A mixture of birch, rowan, oak, hazel, willow and wild cherry tree seedlings will be planted each well suited to the Ochil Hills’ soil conditions and environment. Company chief executive Les Montgomery said: “The Woodland Trust is a wonderful charity which works incredibly hard to conserve the UK’s most beautiful woodlands “We are delighted to make a contribution to their goal by hosting today’s tree planting day. “Planting a tree for every Highland Spring employee goes some way towards showing how committed we are to our partnership with the Woodland Trust.”

Outdoors

Planners urged to stop ‘industrialisation’ of the hills

February 3 2012

A call has been made for an immediate moratorium on windfarms in the Ochil hills due to the ”cavalier, duplicitous and philistine” approach of major power firms towards the area. With the prospect of another 18 turbines before Perth and Kinross Council planners, Councillor Mike Barnacle has made an impassioned plea for a halt to the ”industrialisation” of the hills. His call comes as energy firm Wind Prospect tries to enlarge its Burnfoot windfarm, near two others which were passed by the Scottish Government against local wishes. There are also fears about the impact of the Beauly to Denny power line which will run nearby and an application to extend quarrying rights in the Ochils. Mr Barnacle, in a letter to the council’s planning chief, Nick Brian, states: ”It is time to call a halt on further windfarm developments in the Ochil hills. If the Ochils are anything to go by, Scotland faces the prospect of major adverse impacts on its hill landscapes from the Scottish Government’s misguided and short-term energy policy.” Mr Barnacle said the existing windfarms were erected despite parts of the Ochils being areas of great landscape value. Guidance had suggested only one such complex should be built in the Ochils if at all and should be relatively small. Mr Barnacle said: ”It is regrettable that the authorities, in light of subsequent developments, have not taken full cognisance of such guidance and studies. ”The Ochil hills have been unfairly targeted by a plethora of applications that show no sign of diminishing with these latest proposals. ”In terms of assessing cumulative impact of windfarm developments in the Ochils, the whole process has been handled by the authorities unsatisfactorily and my enduring concern is that this may continue.” Under the new plans two more turbines would be installed at Burnfoot, nine turbines will form a cluster, known as Rhodders, nearby, while a seven-turbine cluster would be created on Frandy Hill. Malcolm Best of Friends of the Ochils said: ”The cumulative impact of all these windfarms will be a disaster as far as visitors, hillgoers and local residents are concerned. The erection of these turbines tears at the heart of the Ochils.” Wind Prospect’s Sarah Dooley said: ”During the construction of Burnfoot Hill we established there was potentially scope for additional turbines in and around the area. There are other developers doing other things and there will get to a point where the Ochils reach saturation but that point hasn’t been reached yet.”

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

Fear Ochils turbine plans will ruin Gleneagles scenery

October 21 2014

The stunning Perthshire landscape was showcased to an audience of millions during a triumphant Ryder Cup 2014. For one week Gleneagles became the epicentre of the sporting world as Europe and the USA clashed on its greens and fairways, with the Ochils as the backdrop. That landscape could change dramatically if plans for a giant new windfarm progress. Green Energy company PNE Wind Ltd hopes to raise as many as 25 giant turbines in the Ochils, each an imposing 126.5 metres, with the applicant keen to progress the scheme in conjunction with Forestry Commission Scotland. Opponents have been quick to react, however, with the Perth-based Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) moving to signal its disquiet. The independent organisation has to date objected to only around one in 20 applications, but has moved to block proposals it regards as potentially the most damaging to Scotland’s mountain assets. In a letter to PNE Wind UK, its chief officer David Gibson wrote: “We have not previously commented on windfarm proposals located in the Ochils but we consider North Hill to be a particularly egregious and ill-advised proposal. “This would be a significantly larger windfarm, with significantly higher turbines, than any existing in the Ochil Hills.” He also noted that the location chosen overlapped two previous windfarm application sites, both of which were refused. Cumulative impact, meanwhile, may prove to be one of the key issues, as the Lochelbank (18 turbines), Green Knowes (12 turbines) and Burnfoot (21 turbines) sites are all within an 11km radius. A spokesman from PNE Wind UK urged the public to withhold judgement, saying: “The PNE Wind UK proposals for North Hill Windfarm are at a very early stage and we will be working closely with key stakeholders and the local community to ensure we can deliver a windfarm that is sensitively designed to the natural features of the site. “I would encourage anyone with an interest in the proposals to visit our website www.pnewindukforestry.co.uk where they can find out more about our plans.” Residents can also email northhillwindfarm@communityline.org or call 0203 128 8938 for further information. A spokeswoman for Gleneagles said the hotel and resort had only recently become aware of the scheme and was considering its implications.

Perth & Kinross

Councillor fears Special Landscape Area designation is failing to portect Ochil Hills

March 23 2016

A councillor wants action to prevent the “industrialisation” of the Ochil Hills through widespread development. A proliferation of renewable energy developments has angered Kinross-shire councillor Mike Barnacle. He wants authorities to work together to explore the possibility of the area being granted Regional Park Status. Mr Barnacle believes this might be more successful than the current Special Landscape Area designation in stopping the spread of wind and solar developments. He has written to Perth and Kinross Council’s development quality manager Nick Brian and Peter Marshall, planning and sustainable development, asking them to investigate this course of action. “At the development management committee on February 17, following a close vote on the denial of opportunity for Friends of the Ochils to comment further and address the committee on additional information … a major photo voltaic solar farm near Path of Condie and Glenfarg was granted approval,” says Mr Barnacle in his letter. “I was disappointed that the further opportunity to address the committee was denied but even more dismayed at the report on Landscape Supplementary Guidance enclosed. “To state that the Ochil Hills have not been substantially affected by windfarms and masts on hill tops is clearly inaccurate. “There is also clearly no presumption against further wind turbines or other renewable energy developments so one has to ask what does a Special Landscape Area designation give in protection? I would suggest none.” Mr Barnacle said a 2004 capacity study recommended only one windfarm be “carefully sited” in the Ochils. “We now have three, at Burnfoot, Greenknowes and Lochelbank, with other wind monitoring masts appearing subsequently in advance of potential further turbine development,” he noted. “I repeat, more stridently than ever, it is time to call a halt on further industrialisation from windfarm developments in the Ochil Hills and if Special Landscape Areas clearly do not ensure landscape protection, I reiterate my call for Regional Park Status for the Ochil Hills to be explored by Perth and Kinross Council with neighbouring authorities.” Scotland’s three regional parks Pentland Hills, Lomond Hills and Clyde Muirshiel are popular for outdoor recreation and are easy to reach from major urban areas.

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.

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