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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

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.

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.


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.

Readers' letters

October 11: We will still require back-up power stations

October 11 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. We will still require back-up power stationsSir, €” The letter (October 7) by the Friends of the Earth chief executive Stan Blackley does not agree with the proposed coal-fired power station at Hunterston. In his opinion, the increased wealth of renewable energy sources will be more than adequate to meet Scotland's future electricity requirements. I am sure that many of the public, not forgetting the benefit of employment, would be more assured to have a relevant back-up of energy if the "wealth of eventual renewable energy sources" fails to adequately meet requirements. Perhaps Mr Blackley could challenge policies in various countries in order to obtain their support against coal-fired power stations. The response would be interesting. Harry Lawrie. 35 Abbots Mill, Kirkcaldy.Public not asked to choose nameSir, €” Your headline writer has done your readers a disservice by failing to check the facts about the naming of the new sports and leisure centre in Glenrothes (October 6). Fife Council did not at any time "ask the public to choose the name" of the new facility. The Glenrothes Area Committee, including Councillor Kay Morrison, unanimously agreed in May that the purpose of the survey was "to help gauge the views of the public on potential names for the new facility". If Councillor Morrison had wanted the results to be binding on the council, regardless of how many or how few people took part, she should have asked for this in May. She didn't. Your report also failed to mention the important fact that although every household in Fife was invited to take part in the survey, and although it was also promoted for over two months in the current FIPRE centre, in local libraries and online, only 174 people actually took part. Compare this to the thousands who made their views known when the late Michael Woods blew the whistle on a suggestion that Fife Institute could be closed down and sold off for housing, and it's easy to "gauge the views of the public". They're relieved that the institute is not being lost, they're delighted that the current administration is replacing it with a brand new facility, and they don't really mind what it's called. We have a long tradition in Scotland of naming important public buildings in memory of individuals who played a major role in having them built. Councillor Michael Woods played a huge role in making sure the current FIPRE site becomes a new sports and leisure centre. (Cllr) Peter Grant.Glenrothes West and Kinglassie. More to it than paying off debtSir, €” It is more than a tad worrying that the Tory Prime Minister David Cameron's grasp of economics is no better than your average mug punter putting all his money on a three-legged nag. Any successful economy depends on the free flow of money and not simply paying off all our debts. It is equally worrying that David Cameron should publicly give support to the Home Secretary Theresa May for uttering untruths about the Human Rights Act whilst chastising the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. Malcolm McCandless.40 Muirfield Crescent,Dundee.Gas cloud risk not worth runningSir, €” It was with a sense of relief I read that the proposed carbon capture programme for Longannet may not go ahead. The prospect of 500 new jobs seems to have obscured the possible long term risks. The technology, as I understand it, involves storing liquid carbon dioxide at around 800psi in empty oil and gas caverns under the North Sea. Presumably we have to store this liquid forever in increasing quantities. Your report quotes a figure of 70 million tonnes by 2024. What happens if we get a leak? It is maybe unlikely, but the events I am thinking about are comparatively common: failure of a pipeline, an accident at a wellhead, an earth tremor or a volcanic eruption. Plus of course, an act of terrorism. Whilst carbon dioxide is harmless in very low concentrations, say 1-10 parts per million, it rapidly becomes highly toxic as concentrations increase. If 10% of these 70 million tonnes leaked out it would produce a cloud of carbon dioxide about the size of the UK. Of course it wouldn't be pure carbon dioxide it would be mixed with the atmosphere. However, even if it was considerably diluted it would still be an appalling danger. Bob Drysdale.Millfield Star,Glenrothes.Exploitation in sex industrySir, €” In your article about the lap dancing club bid (October 7) the Rev James Auld is reported to have said that he, "has no problem with the venture, providing workers do not feel exploited". It does not necessarily follow, however, that a person isn't being exploited just because they don't feel exploited. It is usually people who, for whatever reason, don't feel it who are exploited. If, as Dundee Women's Aid suggests, women in the sex industry are being exploited (and there is ample evidence) then it is worse, not better, that they don't feel that exploitation. So the Rev Auld ought to have a problem with this venture. Clare McGraw.12a Castle Terrace,Broughty Ferry. 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.

Readers' letters

April 12: Can’t compromise solve fire stations dispute?

April 12 2010

This morning's letters to the editor of The Courier discuss the Balmossie fire station campaign, Christianity, Forth Ports' turbines plan for Dundee and council advice on recycling. Can't compromise solve fire stations dispute? Sir,-Having written a letter of concern to your column during the early stages of the Balmossie Fire Station issue, I note with concern your front page article (April 9). The article indicated call-out figures for the stations involved but I have heard these figures do not include the number of call-outs Balmossie are involved in as back-up to other stations, which seems strange. It would also be interesting to be told who decides what criteria they use for selecting the station to initially attend major incidents, as I have again heard that the decision is no longer based on geographical area boundaries, which is also strange. As in all disputes everyone is looking to achieve their own aims; the Forfar community, understandably, seek full-time cover and those in Broughty Ferry wish to retain theirs. Could a solution not be found therefore to have full-time cover at both stations to allay everyone's fears by relocating resources from the larger stations and making savings elsewhere without risking safety? Denis G. W. Thornton.20 Colliston Drive,Broughty Ferry. No longer a Christian country Sir,-For Britain to have been a Christian country "for over 2000 years" as M. Clark asserts (April 9) is remarkable considering Christ's mission had not even begun 2000 years ago, when he was a boy. While the earliest hints of Christianity in Britain date to the Roman period, these islands remained largely pagan for centuries after the time of Christ. With the percentage of regular churchgoers in single digits, and the majority of those calling themselves Christian probably knowing little of Christian mythology and doctrine, it is an exaggeration to call Britain a Christian country now. I don't give a hoot if Christians have a parade, subject to the same bye-laws as any other group doing the same. But, as their faith continues its welcome decline, parading Christians will increasingly be looked on as irrelevant eccentrics. Finally, M. Clark, should not forget the origins of Easter - a pagan spring festival. Dr Stephen Moreton.33 Marina Avenue,Great Sankey,Warrington. Missing out on the joke? Sir,-Poor George K McMillan just can't win. When he tries to be serious his letters are a hoot. When he tries to be humorous, as in his letter about Easter, people like M. Clark take him seriously! Dr David Griffiths41 Haston CrescentPerth A religion under siege Sir,-Some of your recent correspondents have evinced a latent hostility to Christianity in the letters column. Atheists and sceptics there have always been, and I would defend their right to express their point of view. But today's atheists and sceptics such as Richard Dawkins et al, rather than supplying a cogent critique in opposition, tend to produce a diatribe. Recently the BBC televised a programme suggesting there is a subtle undermining of Christianity, evidenced by a nurse going to a tribunal to defend her right to wear a cross as an expression of her faith, and a London Registrar disciplined for refusing to conduct a service for same sex couples as it violated her beliefs. In a secular pluralistic society both the religious and non-religious with different lifestyles must be tolerated, I suppose it is a matter of political correctness. The downside is the increasing fragmentation of society to be seen in broken relationships, broken homes and broken lives, not to mention the recent fiasco of a number of our honourable members helping themselves to taxpayers' money. No doubt the relationship between the Kirk and the state has conferred certain privileges in the past and to some extent still does. Political correctness may hold this situation to account, but constructively the Church of Scotland is the largest caring agency, next to statutory bodies, for the care of the sick, the infirm, the afflicted and the addicted. Rev. J. Harrison Hudson.22 Hamilton Avenue,Tayport. No added value for Dundee citizens Sir,-I'm sitting at work in Edinburgh as I read the article 'Giant turbines plan for Dundee harbour' article with growing disbelief. The threat by Forth Energy to locate these on Dundee's unique waterfront has to be exposed as the unacceptable face of private enterprise that it is. Seeking maximum return for their shareholders at the expense of anyone or anything else may encourage an increase in the value of any imminent share bid but will hardly represent compelling value for the citizens of Dundee. Forth Ports have loads of land on Edinburgh's shoreline - can there be a compelling reason why there's been no similar application here, I wonder? Bill Potter.28 Howe Street,Edinburgh. Rubbish advice from council Sir,-The latest directive from Angus Council says we are no longer allowed to put tea bags, coffee grounds or fruit and vegetable peelings into our green bins, which, just in case you don't know, go to keep the world a greener place by composting the contents of the said bin. However, the leaflet also explains these same items make a useful compost for your garden. Aren't local councils wonderful things! J. R. Smith.44 Glamis Road,Kirriemuir.


Former Kincardine power station plant site to be sold off

May 10 2018

The former Kincardine power station site will be put on the market later this year. ScottishPower made the pledge to local SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville following a meeting with company representatives. The energy company is a major landowner in west Fife, owning sites including the power stations at Kincardine and Longannet and the Valleyfield ash lagoons. Ms Somerville has been pressing the firm for decisions on the future of its vacant sites to enable the regeneration of south west Fife to progress. The Kincardine decision has raised hopes of the potential for development, including the possibility of a community buy out for part of the site. The land has been vacant since the power station’s closure in the 1990s and its demolition in 2001, prompting frustrations from the community that the land could be put to use to help boost Kincardine's fortunes. Ms Somerville, Dunfermline and West Fife MSP, said: “It’s welcome news that the Kincardine power station site will finally made available for sale. “After lying vacant for so long, it’s about time that it was put to use. “The sale opens up huge opportunities for the community in terms of stimulating the economy and creating jobs. “I’m excited to see what the future holds for the site.” She said areas of land such as the former power station site held enormous potential for development and regeneration in south west Fife. “That’s why I’ve been pressing ScottishPower to make sure that sites like this are not left vacant,” she added. A ScottishPower spokesperson said: “The Kincardine power station site has been well used over the years, which has included providing an important training base for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. “As part of our long-term property management plans, we are looking to initiate a sales process in the near future. “We will keep the community up to date as this process develops.”  

Business news

SSE in gas mothballing move at Hornsea

March 27 2015

Perth-based power company SSE is mothballing a third of the natural gas withdrawal capacity at Hornsea in Yorkshire due to unfavourable market returns. The site accounts for about 5% of the total gas storage capacity in Britain, but SSE said the costs of operating the older withdrawal plant are not supported by market returns. The mothballing will take effect from May 1, and the company said the change will ensure the storage service offers greater value for gas storage customers although it will cost 12 jobs. SSE made the announcement as it entered its closed period prior to publication of its 2015 annual report on May 20. Gas storage operators are faced with low returns due to unfavourable market conditions and increasing costs, with the rise in business rates for gas storage facilities. In electricity generation the company said the market was favouring assets that are flexible and reliable, cost less to maintain and emit less carbon dioxide. This was a consequence of factors including the increased cost of coal-fired generation over gas-fired generation. The trend was illustrated this week with SSE’s gas-fired power station at Peterhead winning a crucial £15 million contract from the National Grid at the expense of Scottish Power and a third bidder. As a result an “extremely disappointed” Scottish Power announced it would close its huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife, which employs 270 people, early next year. SSE said it would continue to invest in Peterhead to improve the station’s flexibility to allow it to operate from this winter at up to 400MW. It will also conduct a detailed assessment of the limited longevity of its coal-fired station at Ferrybridge in Yorkshire and Fiddler’s Ferry in Cheshire during 2015-16. The company is further bringing its Keadby gas-fired power station in Lincolnshire out of “deep mothball,” and the smaller waste-derived fuel power station at Ferrybridge, of which SSE owns 50%, is expected to begin generation soon. SSE’s gas-fired station at Great Island in County Wexford, Ireland is expected to be fully commissioned in the near future. * The big six energy firms stand to make increasing profits from households amid falling wholesale gas and electricity prices, according to analysis by regulator Ofgem. Its latest Supply Market Indicator estimates firms could earn a margin of £118, or 9% of an estimated annual dual fuel bill, over the next 12 months, up £5 from its previous estimate. Overall bills themselves are expected to be £1,295, £6 lower than the figure pencilled in last month, and £60 less than the total expected a year ago, following cuts to gas tariffs announced earlier this year. Wholesale gas and electricity costs are expected to be £80 less than last year’s estimate.

Perth & Kinross

Newburgh emerges as favourite in railway feasibility study

December 11 2015

A return of trains to Newburgh could be considered by the Scottish Government after councillors backed a study of the economic benefit. Residents have campaigned for years for reinstatement of the village’s railway station to allow services passing on the Edinburgh to Perth line to stop. A new passenger feasibility study (PDF link) that looked at the cases for stations in Newburgh and Oudenarde found Newburgh would have the greater impact for passengers. Fife Council’s executive committee approved the findings of the study by Systra, commissioned by Fife and Perth and Kinross councils and transport partnerships SEStran and Tactran. It also agreed to further discussions with Transport Scotland and Network Rail before consideration of entering the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) process. A STAG report, which could cost £100,000 to prepare, would allow the government to determine whether Newburgh or Oudenarde could become a stop on the Highland main line. Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett said: “This is a relatively forgotten part of Fife and this would make a huge difference if we could pull this off.” Cupar councillor Karen Marjoram said: “Looking at the issues with the Forth Road Bridge at the other end of Fife at the moment we really need to get as many people as possible onto public transport. “This is a quick fix and trains are already running, they just need to be able to stop to let people jump on.” However, the study’s conclusion was challenged by Councillor John Kellas, convener of Perth and Kinross Council’s the enterprise and infrastructure committee, who said housing expansion in Perth coupled with development in Bridge of Earn and Oudenarde would strengthen the case for a station there. The study predicted 286,000 station entries and exits at Oudenarde annually by 2030, compared with 93,000 at Newburgh. Mr Kellas said those figures did not include expected demand from Perth and said: “There will potentially be thousands more houses and people on the western edge of Perth might prefer to go to a station at Oudenarde than Perth for easier parking.”