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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...


Plans for St Andrews to generate its own power from waste

February 6 2013

A Fife community is investigating the feasibility of an ambitious £1 million project that could slash energy bills for businesses and potentially make it the first town in Scotland to become heat and power self-sufficient. Forthcoming legislation means biodegradable waste will be banned from landfill, while landfill taxes continue to rise. The use of industrial food macerators is to be banned from 2015. The St Andrews Partnership, which represents business and other organisations, believes this threat is an opportunity for the town to change its current resource management practices, generate a town income and solve a problem at the same time. It is investigating whether a community-owned anaerobic digestion (AD) plant could be established at a yet to be identified farm site on the edge of town to produce bio-gas that is then burned to generate heat and electricity. The energy could then be sold to generate a local income and be used by the town. The proposal comes as Fife Council continues construction of its £14.5 million AD system at Dunfermline, which will take in food and compost waste from across Fife by the end of summer. Patrick Laughlin, manager of the St Andrews Partnership, told The Courier: “One of the St Andrews Partnership’s three strategic themes for action is environment. “Our goal is to help ensure that current and future generations of residents and visitors can enjoy a notably clean, environmentally sound and attractive town. “Anaerobic digesters use biodegradable material such as food waste and agricultural by-products to produce gas and heat, which can be used locally and/or exported to the grid. “An initial high-level feasibility study commissioned by St Andrews Partnership in 2012 indicated that, in theory, enough such material was being produced in the St Andrews area by local farms, hotels and restaurants and institutions such as the university to support a small-to-middle-sized anaerobic digester.” He continued: “The partnership feels that the potential environmental and economic benefits for St Andrews merit investigating this concept in more detail. “Accordingly, we are currently presenting the proposals in outline to a number of interested groups around St Andrews. “If their support in principle is forthcoming and we can raise the funding required to undertake a full feasibility study and business plan we hope to take the idea forward over the coming months.” A St Andrews University spokesman said: “We have backed this idea from its earliest stages. “The possibilities for St Andrews to turn waste to energy and income seem to be considerable, and there is an opportunity for townspeople and local businesses to work together on a community project that would provide practical, direct and sustainable benefit. It will, however, require vision and cooperation.”

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


St Andrews University seeks partnership with Guardbridge locals

June 2 2010

St Andrews University has made immediate moves to assure residents of Guardbridge that it will work with them to decide its plans for the former Curtis Fine Papers mill in the town, which it has just bought for an undisclosed price. University quaestor and factor Derek Watson met members of Guardbridge Community Council and revealed that although legal matters were completed at the end of last week, the university will not take possession of the site for another six months. In the meantime, however, it will move ahead with development proposals so planning applications are ready for submission when the time comes. Mr Watson said community representatives will be involved perhaps even being invited on to a project board to be kept abreast of proposals as they evolve. "This will not be a developer-led approach. If we are not good neighbours it will come back and bite us for several generations to come," he said. Mr Watson said the university still has to understand the full nature of the sprawling site and what can and cannot be done there, but he said development would be carried out properly and in a sustainable way. The plans could include spin-out companies from research projects, academic use, possible housing, and renewable energy work which will help make the university "carbon neutral." He added that because the land has a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on its doorstep and the location offers "huge opportunities", there could be a base for students studying environmental impacts. Also discussed in what he described as a "palette of options" had been the possibility of accommodation for students or post-graduates, and he said the university did not want to see a site that "dies at 5pm." The chairman of Fife Council's north east Fife area committee, Andrew Arbuckle, said, "Obviously this is all at a very early stage, but it will bring back into use property that would have become an eyesore if left unattended. "Hopefully jobs will be created, there will be environmental improvements, and the important activities of the Eden Estuary Nature Reserve, which has a rangers' base next to the mill, will be protected. "This could bring tremendous benefits to the Guardbridge area, and it is an ambitious move for the university, which could have scope to do things it would not be able to do in St Andrews itself." At the meeting community chairwoman Elspeth Paterson said the purchase by the university had "put minds at rest", because there had been fears that the site would lie untouched for years if it had been purchased by a property developer.


St Andrews rail line bid picking up speed

April 3 2013

Ambitious plans to reinstate the rail line to St Andrews have taken a massive leap forward. Councillors are to examine the case for returning trains to the university town, 44 years after the connection was axed by British Rail. A group which has fought for construction of a railway linking the popular destination and home of golf with the East Coast main line for almost a quarter of a century hopes that winning the support of the local councillors will propel the proposal to the next level. After StARLink St Andrews Rail Link outlined its bid to a committee of North-East Fife area councillors, it emerged that a formal report is to be presented to the committee this year. StARLink convener Jane Ann Liston said: “This is a significant step forward in the campaign to get St Andrews reconnected to the rail network. “I found the reaction from the members very encouraging. The news that the committee will be considering the matter further is most heartening.” Ms Liston has urged the councillors to request an appraisal of the proposal by transport partnership SESTRAN. She also wants Fife Council to ensure provision is made for the railway in the area’s strategic plan, the TayPlan, which is about to be revised. A study has been carried out by Tata Steel Projects, which identified an eight-kilometre route following the Eden Valley. An indicative timetable was produced, suggesting hourly services could be provided to Edinburgh and Dundee, taking one hour 19 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively. It is estimated it would cost at least £76 million to construct the railway and infrastructure. Ms Liston said: “Further analysis needs to be undertaken on the running costs to ensure that the service level accurately reflects the demand profile and costs are split with other, existing services in the peak hours. “This should be done as part of the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) process. Similarly, the environmental assessment should be undertaken, linked to the STAG process. “The next stage of development would be to seek funding from SESTRANS, Fife Council and Transport Scotland to conduct the STAG appraisal to define the business and environmental case.” The committee report will also consider the possibility of reopening the rail halt at Newburgh.


Biggest ever St Andrew’s Day Celebration party planned for town

October 7 2015

St Andrews is preparing for its biggest ever celebration of the patron saint it takes its name from. A four-day party is planned in the Fife town including a huge open air ceilidh and a torchlit procession. The St Andrew’s Day Celebration, one of the country’s key events for Scotland’s national day, will also include a concert and harvest feast for the first time. Last year’s sell-out, the St Andrews versus the Rest of the World golf match, will be played again. Thousands of people are expected to come from far and near during the long weekend, from November 27 to 30. Up to 1,500 dancers are to take part in the Fellowship of St Andrews ceilidh, which will follow an afternoon of music on two stages in Market Street featuring nationally-known performers. Jim McArthur, chairman of co- ordinator St Andrews Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be launching this year’s programme of events. “We’re especially pleased to be including around a dozen events being staged by community organisations this will add a real sense of local authenticity and participation. “St Andrew’s Day will once again be an opportunity for us to celebrate Scotland’s culture here in the town named after our patron saint.” Headline acts are due to be announced shortly. The celebrations, supported by numerous local organisations, form part of the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme. Cabinet Secretary for Culture Fiona Hyslop said: “This year’s programme is shaping up to be another wonderful celebration of Scotland’s national day with something for everyone to enjoy. “Each year the celebrations in St Andrews get bigger and better and as one of Scotland’s flagship St Andrew’s Day activities, they are sure to bring in visitors from near and far. “We are proud to support the St Andrews Partnership and the community in their work to celebrate St Andrew’s Day as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals.” Last year’s St Andrew’s Day Celebration was attended by more than 12,000 people and generated more than £400,000 for the local economy. Details of further events, tickets and times will be revealed later this month and will be available on the Visit St Andrews website.

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.

Business news

BIG Partnership’s Dunfermline move

November 25 2014

The BIG Partnership, Scotland’s largest PR and digital marketing agency, has moved to a new studio in Dunfermline after more than nine years in Kirkcaldy. The move concludes a national round of investment for the agency, with new offices opened in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool. BIG now has the capacity to more than double its marketing communications, digital marketing and design teams to help meet increased demand. The new Fife studio is home to 18 staff, and recruitment is under way for new developers, designers and project managers. Board director Allan Barr said: “Developing new websites, brands and marketing campaigns is a creative process, and as we outgrew our old office we wanted to design a modern creative studio which would lend itself well to that type of work.” In the last 12 months the agency has launched new websites for Mackies Ice Cream and Chocolate, Flexlife, UK Steel Enterprise and Glasgow City of Science. It has just launched an ecommerce site for the Whisky Shop.


Organ donation partnership set up in memory of St Andrews student

February 22 2013

The mother of a St Andrews University student who died after falling through the skylight of a shop during a night out has thanked kind-hearted students for helping her promote organ donation. Alex Richardson (21), from Newmarket in Suffolk, crashed through the window at the Home Improvements Mica Homestore in St Andrews on March 24 2009. He sustained head injuries and was treated at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and released, but he deteriorated rapidly and was taken back to hospital where he was placed on a life support machine. He died two days later. He was in his third year studying French and Spanish. His mother, Annie Richardson, had the idea of the university’s Organ Donation Society teaming up with NHS Blood and Transplant to raise awareness of organ donation among its students and staff. Mrs Richardson said: “Alex loved St Andrews and as a family it seems appropriate to us that the university partnership scheme is being launched here. “The loss of a child for any family is devastating but it gives us some comfort that his organs have helped change the lives of four people, especially the man who received his very special heart. The message going forward is, Think about the ODR Talk about the ODR Act and register for the ODR.” Launched this week as a pilot scheme, the partnership is the first of its kind between NHS Blood and Transplant and a university society. The president of the Organ Donation Society at St Andrews, Nicole Imray, said: “We are delighted to have been asked by NHS Blood and Transplant to be their first university organ donation society partner. “Creating this society was an exciting challenge and provides the opportunity to spread the word about organ donation and get more information out there.” The partnership aims to increase the number of young people who join the NHS Organ Donor Register. It will also promote the importance of discussing their wishes with their friends and families. During the coming year, the St Andrews’ Organ Donation Society will test the effectiveness of its campaign, which will help in the foundation of similar partnerships with universities across the UK. There are 10,000 people in the UK waiting for an organ transplant and three people die every day because there are not enough organs available. For more information on the register, visit organdonation.nhs.uk.

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