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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

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

Grundon Waste Management refuses to give up fight for Perth incinerator

May 10 2012

Controversial plans to build a giant waste-to-energy plant in the heart of Perth have re-emerged after the developer behind them lodged an appeal. Grundon Waste Management confirmed it will fight for permission to proceed with the development. The Oxfordshire firm's senior planner Veronique Bensadou believes there is no good reason to reject the revised proposal submitted by the company in May 2011. She said the firm had demonstrated that its plans ''would not result in any adverse effects on the local environmental quality or amenity of the surrounding area''. She now wants the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) to overturn the decision of Perth and Kinross councillors, who rejected those revised plans in March. They did so following a major campaign by residents, community councils and politicians concerned it would destroy the character of the city and harm the health of its residents. At the time protestors also warned that the fact the Shore Road site already had outline planning permission left the door open to repeated applications. The original proposal was rejected by the council in November 2009 and a subsequent appeal was also turned down by a Scottish Government reporter in May 2010. Revised plans, which outlined a reduced chimney of 34 metres and modifications to its gasification process, were then submitted but were once again refused on the basis of concerns about odour, noise and the over-development of the site. In a statement released on Wednesday, Ms Bensadou said she believes that the proposal addresses the specific issues raised by Perth and Kinross Council, takes into consideration the DPEA reporter's conclusions on the previous appeal and reflects the most up-to-date advice and guidance from Sepa and the Scottish Government. ''The proposed change in technology to a gasification process would reduce the overall scale of the proposed development,'' she said. ''This would significantly reduce the potential visual impact of the facility on the landscape and visual amenity of the area. ''The proposed buildings are now similar in height to other existing buildings on the Shore Road and in keeping with the industrial character of the area.'' Both as part of the application process and during the determination period, Grundon said it had provided significant information and technical assessments to address the concerns raised by statutory consultees and the council, particularly in relation to noise, air quality and odour. Ms Bensadou added: ''We do understand why the general public may be concerned about the proposals and professional officers have a role to play in making sure that the public are provided with full and accurate information to help them form realistic judgments on development proposals. ''We firmly believe and have demonstrated that our proposal would not result in any adverse effects on the local environmental quality or amenity of the surrounding area. ''Outline planning permission has already been granted for the facility so the principle of acceptability of the proposed development at this location has already been established and is not an issue. ''We trust that once the reporter has evaluated all the factual data provided by the company, he will recognise that our proposal to turn local waste into renewable power and heat while meeting the needs of the community at the same time is the best solution for the people of Perth.''For more reaction to Grundon's latest move, see Friday's Courier

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.

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

New Audi range is electrifying

June 7 2017

Audi has been relentless in its expansion over the past decade, scattering new models like confetti. It shows no sign of slowing down as we head towards the end of the decade. If anything, in fact, the company is increasing the pace of its model range expansion. The most recent news is the announcement of two new “Q” models – which will bring its SUV range to five – and three all-electric e-tron models. The German car maker intends that at least 30 per cent of its sales will be of electric or part-electric models by 2025, and aims to have the technology available for driverless city cars within four years. The plans were outlined to Audi shareholders during the brand’s AGM in Neckarsulm, Germany. Chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We are rejuvenating our model portfolio enormously and will renew five existing core model series by mid-2018. “In addition, we will expand our successful Q family by 2019 with two new concepts – the Audi Q8 and the Audi Q4 – and we will launch our battery-electric e-tron models.” The Q4 and Q8 will have coupe-like rooflines similar to BMW’s X4 and X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe. Three new electric Audis will appear by 2020, and the brand will then introduce electric versions across its core model ranges. Audi is also taking over the development of autonomous car technology across the Volkswagen Group and the first examples of driverless cars will be launched early in the next decade. Meanwhile the new ‘myAudi’ programme will establish a digital platform for online services across the range. The latter half of 2017 will see Audi update its luxury flagship models. A new A8 will be unveiled later this month and will be followed by a new A7. Audi haven’t confirmed yet but it seems likely we will soon see replacements for other older models in the range such as the A1, A6 and Q3. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

Perth Tay plan takes a step forward

October 14 2014

Ambitious plans to make more of the River Tay at Perth as a tourist attraction have taken a step forward. Plans have been lodged on behalf of Perth and Kinross Council for pontoons at key points on the river to allow people to enjoy cruising downstream from the city. The initial applications are for three pontoons at the Fergusson Galley on Tay Street; near the Willowgate fishery under the Friarton Bridge; and at Elcho Castle at Rhynd. The application says that the inner Tay estuary and its coastline is “potentially a major asset” but the stretch south of Perth is “little appreciated or used by the public”. It goes on: “This project will make a significant contribution to improving the access, increasing visitors to the area and in creating employment.” The council yesterday explained the background to the plan saying: “The Inner Tay Masterplan has been developed by Perth and Kinross Council and a number of our partner organisations. “The major aim of the masterplan is to create a sustainable inner Tay area, which is beautiful and vibrant and where regeneration works and growth opportunities allow for the potential of the area to be maximised to the benefit of the local people and economy it surrounds. “The Perth city plan also states that the River Tay has a central role to play in the regeneration of the area. “The masterplan outlines a number of possible and realistic opportunities to regenerate the inner Tay area which, once implemented, could have an extremely positive impact on the local economy in terms of both job creation and boosting local tourism. “Alongside this masterplan, other opportunities are being explored and this includes the proposed pontoons, which would tie in with other transport links to provide a range of transport choices to residents and visitors. “It is proposed that, if approved, the pontoons would be run as a public/private partnership. “The council is investigating investment opportunities to fund the development and to agree a management programme for the pontoons going forward if permission is granted by councillors.” The spokesperson said that two new jobs would be created by the pontoons plan but there was also the potential for improved access to the river and an increase in footfall and visitor numbers to sustain employment in a number of other posts linked to projects on the Tay. As a result, it could “sustain and support” the creation of 21.5 posts.

Perth & Kinross

Waste firm Grundon to return with proposals for Perth plant

January 29 2011

Grundon Waste Management is to return with new proposals for an energy-from-waste plant on Shore Road, Perth, by May, it has been confirmed. While the details have yet to be confirmed, Grundon is "assessing alternative technologies and plant designs" for the site. A range of options for treating unrecyclable waste are being considered, including different types of physical, chemical, biological and thermal processes. Future plans could potentially include technology such as gasification-proposed for Binn Farm near Glenfarg-rather than "incineration" but it is understood that the plans could be similar in scale and design to those rejected last year. Responding to questions over whether the firm intended to submit a revised proposal for an incinerator, Grundon's estates manager Bob Nicholson told The Courier, "When the (Scottish Government) reporter dismissed our appeal for approval of reserved matters in November last year, he approved the principle of using the Shore Road site for an energy from waste plant and made many other positive points. "At the time, Grundon stated that it would evaluate the detail in the full report and review its options, which could include other waste activities on the site. "In line with that statement, we can confirm that we are now actively assessing alternative technologies and plant designs. "Whatever the selected options, the objective remains to provide a sustainable solution for the long-term management of household and commercial waste that cannot be recycled. "Grundon has until the middle of May to submit another application." The news was met with dismay by Brian Raine, chairman of Bridgend, Gannochy and Kinnoull Community Council, which took a lead role in the well-supported and successful campaign to block Grundon's incinerator plan. Thousands objected to the proposal after it was revealed council officials had granted outline planning consent for the Shore Road development in 2006. Full planning permission was eventually refused by Perth and Kinross Council, only for Grundon to appeal the decision after councillors stopped short of revoking the outline consent. Mr Raine said, "This news reinforces the value of the campaign that we had to persuade the council to revoke outline planning permission. Had they done so then Grundon could not have come back with another plan. "We were very clear that revocation was the way forward, but the council were not convinced. "Whether they did not wish to admit their mistake or simply didn't want to have to pay compensation, I don't know." "Any fresh application by Grundon would need to go through the normal planning process, although the robust way we were able to refuse the last application, despite the presence of the outline consent on the site, gave confidence in our ability to deal appropriately with any future applications of this nature," the council's deputy chief executive Jim Irons said last month.


Ruth Davidson insists the Conservative manifesto will be bursting with ideas

March 29 2016

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has pledged to unveil a manifesto "bursting with ideas" following internal party allegations that she has not presented any detailed policies. Jim Terras, chairman of the Selkirk Conservative and Unionist Club, has called for "policies or a detailed manifesto" and said Ms Davidson's performance in the first televised election debate was "very poor" in a steady stream of criticism on social media. Mr Terras has also pointed to several demands for detail on the ConservativeHome website, in response to Ms Davidson's article defending the UK Government's tax decisions and criticising those of her Scottish opponents. It follows a leak of an internal party document which claimed the manifesto will not present the Conservative plan for Scotland, but will outline how the party has changed and "what we will pressure the Scottish Government on in the next parliament". Ms Davidson rebuffed claims that her party has been silent on policy, insisting she has pledged to build 100,000 new homes, hand colleges £60 million, reform education from pre-school to post-secondary, reform Police Scotland and the courts, address the "target culture" in the NHS and invest in roads and digital infrastructure. She told the Press Association: "Maybe Jim doesn't read the papers but I can't say that we haven't been putting a lot of ideas out there. "We will have a full manifesto bursting with ideas. We have been the only people holding the Government to account on some of this stuff for months." Ms Davidson said she had not seen the leaked paper until it was published in the Daily Record, but said its central claim that "the manifesto will not be presented as Our Plan for Scotland" is "clearly false". She added: "A manifesto is all about policies and ideas, and that is exactly what ours is going to be as it has been at every other election." The Edinburgh Central candidate visited Little Learners Nursery in the south of the city to support Save the Children's Read On, Get On campaign and outline her education policies. "We have seen literacy and numeracy fall in Scotland," she said. "We also see a really big gap in young people from poorer communities and the better off and that gap grows as they progress through school, so it's something that you need to address. "We need to empower teachers more within our schools, so we want to have greater decision-making power for our headteachers and school leaders, such as hiring of staff, budgets and allocations. "Of the money that is designated to schools by the Scottish Government, 20% never reaches it to the school gates. It is spent and kept by councils. "Some of it is spent very well but we think some of it would be better spent by teachers." She called for a significant proportion of the £650 million coming to Scotland from the Chancellor's Budget to be spent on schools. Ms Davidson also highlighted the opposition of the education sector to the Scottish Government's plan to appoint a "named person" from health and social care to monitor the wellbeing of every child in Scotland. She said the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and the Association of Heads and Deputy Heads have raised concerns about the scheme, as have the Association of Scottish Social Workers, Police Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland and senior social workers. In her article for ConservativeHome, Ms Davidson said “middle earners in Scotland will be forced to pay £3,000 more in tax than people in England over the next five years” under the SNP’s income tax plans. “By the turn of the decade, the difference in take home pay for someone touching £50,000 will be £800 a year,” she said. “And, secondly, the additional rate may go up too.” She added: “Our message in this campaign will be that we will fight to keep people’s taxes as low as possible, not just because workers deserve to keep more of their own money - and they do - but also because it is good for Scotland. “I want to deliver the kind of balanced parliament that will make better decisions for all of us.” She said a Labour opposition will leave Scotland “on a high tax escalator” with “a high tax first minister being told by a high tax opposition leader that taxes aren’t high enough”. She added: “It is only the Scottish Conservatives which can stop that escalator in its tracks.”

Perth & Kinross

‘No forgiveness’ if Perth incinerator is built

March 23 2010

A letter sent to every single Perth and Kinross councillor warns that the people of Perth will never forgive the local authority if a £100 million incinerator is constructed close to the town centre. The communication comes after local authority chiefs controversially urged elected officials not to revoke previously granted outline consent for the facility. Campaigners including members of Bridgend, Gannochy and Kinnoull Community Council insist revocation is the only way to ensure the hugely contentious proposal is finally killed off. There was outrage when Grundon Waste Management was granted outline consent for the Shore Road plant, which would feature a 260-foot chimney stack. It has since been widely accepted that the approval should never have been given and council officials have been battling desperately ever since to ensure the plans do not progress any further. Councillors have already refused a subsequent detailed application lodged by Grundon and had resolved to discuss revocation at a meeting this week. Such a move would effectively remove the applicant's right to appeal to the Scottish Government, a step Grundon has now resolved to take. Campaigners firmly believed revocation was on the cards and congratulated the council for apparently preparing to accept its mistake. But there was shock when -- contrary to the previous speculation -- officials revealed such a move is unlikely. A report states new legal advice suggests the council, as partial landlord of the site, is not obliged to give permission for the incinerator even if an appeal succeeds. While that may well be enough to appease councillors, campaigners are far from convinced and claim it is a "perilous" situation. "It seemed that elected members, officers and objectors were committed to revocation of the outline consent for this development," said Brian Raine, chairman of Bridgend, Gannochy and Kinnoull Community Council. "This was confirmed to us shortly before Christmas when our representatives were invited to a meeting at council headquarters. "The assumption was that revocation would be recommended to a meeting of the full council. "It was a great disappointment to be subsequently told that officers had concluded the case for revocation is not strong. "The outline consent was issued as a result of gross errors. "We have asked to see the legal advice which led to the rejection of revocation but our request has been declined." Mr Raine is informing councillors that a QC consulted by campaigners remains of the view that outline consent was granted unlawfully and should be revoked. "Anyone with an appreciation of the city's character would recognise the special sensitivity of this location and reject it on a 'this cannot be right' basis," he continued in his six-page letter to elected members. "Throughout this sorry affair we have been keen to work with the council...However, we still see revocation as the surest way to put right perilous mistakes. "The alternative...is attended by the risk of an outcome which the people of Perth would find hard to forgive." In the letter, councillors are urged not to ignore the "unprecedented" level of public opposition to the proposal.