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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...


Devon Wood windfarm proposer rejects claims scholarship offer is a ‘PR wheeze’

September 28 2011

The firm behind controversial plans for a windfarm at Devon Wood in Fife insists it is offering one of the "most competitive" community benefit packages. Officials at West Coast Energy say that, if given the green light, they will not only provide community organisation with lucrative funding but also establish a scholarship for local youngsters. The company plans to build seven turbines with a blade tip height of 121 metres on land just north of Kennoway. However, the plan to provide scholarships has not delighted all Fifers, with one critic describing it as a "PR wheeze" which "exploits the hopes" of local youngsters. West Coast Energy insists the overall response has been far more positive, citing the success of a series of recent drop-in sessions. Officials said the scholarships provide an "exciting opportunity". "Seminars held in Kettle, Kennoway and Star aimed to give young people from the area an opportunity to find out more about the proposed scholarships and how they could benefit," a spokeswoman said. "Youngsters from all three communities turned out to meet with representatives from West Coast Energy and Carnegie College, who were on hand to discuss the scholarship initiative and how students could register their interest in becoming involved." West Coast Energy and Carnegie College announced their intention to create a scholarship opportunity for students who live within the Kennoway, Kettle and Star community council boundary areas at the start of September. The scholarships would be offered to students from January to August 2012, should planning permission be granted by Fife Council for the proposed Devon Wood project. Up to six scholarships could be available to young people, providing financial support for students studying engineering and renewables at the college. West Coast Energy planning and development director Steve Salt said: "We are delighted that people from Kingskettle, Kennoway and Star attended our information evenings to find out more about the potential scholarship opportunities. "We are keen to hear from other interested young people in the area, and intend to work closely with the local schools including Buckhaven High, Bell Baxter, Kirkland High and Auchmuchty High." Jim Brown, head of the Whitlock energy collaboration centre at the Carnegie College was similarly pleased. "We are keen to speak to more potential candidates interested in this scholarship, and anyone who is interested in a career in renewables." However, not everybody is convinced, with Linda Holt among those opposing the Devon Wood plan. She poured scorn on the proposed scholarship scheme, saying: "This highly controversial application has attracted hundreds of objections. A PR wheeze which exploits the hopes of youngsters living near Devon Wood marks a new low."


McClenaghan strikes glorious gold for Northern Ireland at Whitlock’s expense

April 8 2018

Rhys McClenaghan won Northern Ireland’s first medal of the Commonwealth Games with pommel horse gold ahead of England’s Olympic champion Max Whitlock.A stunning routine from McClenaghan saw him relegate Whitlock to silver; their scores matched, but the 18-year-old from Antrim took the title because his routine had a greater execution level.The Englishman had been hoping to replicate his two gold medals in an hour from Rio, but an error-strewn display had earlier seen him finish sixth in the the floor final as Scotland’s Daniel Purvis took bronze behind champion Marios Georgiou of Cyprus.Whitlock said: “This will push me a bit more and give me a bit more fire that I need and I’m looking forward to getting back.”McClenaghan added: “This is a new chapter in my career as we build towards the next Olympics. It gives me new found confidence.”Courtney Tulloch won rings gold ahead of England team-mate Nile Wilson and Georgia-Mae Fenton took the women’s uneven bars title as the Home Nations won six medals on Sunday.There were 10 gold medals for the Home Nations on a day which also saw an engagement for basketball players Jamell Anderson and Georgia Jones after England’s men beat Cameroon.Scotland’s Duncan Scott won the men’s 100 metres freestyle for his fourth medal of the Games – and added a fifth with bronze in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.The 20-year-old surged to victory in 48.02 seconds to beat a star-studded field, while England’s Siobhan O’Connor was dominant in retaining the women’s 200m individual medley title.Paralympic medallist Alice Tai finished with silver in the women’s S9 100m freestyle.And Adam Peaty’s bid for 50m breaststroke glory remains on track as he qualified quickest for Monday’s final in a Games record of 26.49.Australia’s relay win rounded off the night as James Guy anchored England to silver ahead of Scotland in third.Scotland secured another gold when Mark Stewart triumphed in the men’s points race in track cycling.Stewart lapped the field three times to cap victory and England’s Ethan Hayter took bronze.Callum Skinner took one-kilometre time-trial bronze and Neah Evans scratch race silver as Scotland claimed two more medals at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane. England’s Emily Kay took bronze in the scratch race.Race walker Tom Bosworth and hammer thrower Nick Miller won England’s first medals of the athletics programme.Miller won gold with a best of 80.26 metres, as Scotland’s Mark Dry took bronze.Bosworth earlier had to settle for 20km silver, while Wales’ Bethan Davies took bronze in the women’s event.Para-athletics world champion Olivia Breen added Commonwealth T38 long jump gold.Asha Philip progressed from the women’s 100m heats and semi-finals to Monday’s final, while her England team-mate Adam Gemili advanced to the corresponding men’s final behind favourite Yohan Blake of Jamaica.Scotland’s first of three gold medals from the day came in bowls, when Ronald Duncan, Derek Oliver and Darren Burnett won the men’s triples ahead of Australia.Wales’ Laura Daniels took silver in the women’s singles.English pair James Willstrop and Sarah-Jane Perry reached their respective squash singles finals.Emily Godley of England won the women’s 75kg weightlifting, Laura Hughes of Wales took bronze and England’s Sarah Davies took silver in the 69kg event.More English medals came when shooter Amber Hill was second in the women’s skeet final and with bronze in the women’s team table tennis.

Business news

Glasses raised to whisky-fuelled cars courtesy of Blackford’s Tullibardine Distillery

February 26 2015

A Scottish company has become the first in the world to produce biofuel capable of powering cars from whisky production leftovers. The breakthrough was born in Perthshire as the residues came from the Tullibardine Distillery in Blackford. Celtic Renewables is now seeking funding from the Department for Transport to build its first demonstration facility at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant by 2018. Company owners estimate it could be the market leader in an industry worth more than £100 million to the UK economy. The Edinburgh company, a spin-out from the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, has manufactured the first samples of bio-butanol from the by-products of whisky fermentation. It has spent the last year developing its process as part of a £1m programme funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change under its Energy Entrepreneurs Fund. Celtic Renewables, in partnership with the BioBase Europe Pilot Plant in Belgium, produced the first samples of bio-butanol from waste, using a process called Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol fermentation. ABE fermentation was developed in the UK a century ago but died out in competition with the petrochemical industry. Bio-butanol is now recognised as an advanced biofuel a direct replacement for petrol and Celtic is seeking to reintroduce the process to Europe for the first time since the 1960s, using the millions of tonnes of annual whisky production residues as its raw material. The biofuel is produced from draff the sugar-rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water for whisky fermentation and pot ale, the copper-containing yeasty liquid left over from distillation. Professor Martin Tangney, Celtic’s president, said: “Showing the world our first sample of biofuel produced from whisky by-products is a proud moment. “We have successfully taken a defunct technology and adapted it to current market conditions, attracting the investment and partners required to scale up to industrial production and prove this works at scale.” Winners of the DfT’s £25m advanced biofuel demonstration competition will receive funding of up to £12m over three years to build an operational biofuel facility that can produce at least one million litres of biofuel a year. Chief executive Mark Simmers said “This historic sample could herald a new era in sustainable biofuel and the birth of a UK industry worth £100 million a year.” Professor Wim Soetaert, chief executive of BioBase Europe, said: “We are excited about the future with Celtic Renewables and we are committed to turn our collaboration into a major success.” Energy Secretary Ed Davey hailed the breakthrough.


Whitlock’s ready to meet the challenge from rising star McClenaghan

April 10 2018

Max Whitlock has vowed to repel the exuberant rise of 18-year-old Northern Irishman Rhys McClenaghan as he leaves the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with renewed desire to confirm his status as one of the greatest gymnasts of his era.Whitlock suffered a shock defeat in the men’s pommel final on Sunday, after which McClenaghan, who beat his idol by virtue of a higher execution score, took to social media to bullishly warn: “Coming for that World title next Max…”The 25-year-old double world and Olympic champion is hardly the type to lose sleep over the performances of his potential rivals, particularly as he admits to never watching their routines either during or post competition.“I think he (McClenaghan) is obviously very confident, which is a good thing,” Whitlock told Press Association Sport. “But stuff like that doesn’t bother me, and it’s why I don’t rise to that type of thing.“I don’t see the world title as my title. I’m very proud to have those two that I’ve won, but the next one isn’t mine. No-one’s taking it off me. World titles can’t be taken, but they have got to be earned.”Whitlock won a gold medal as part of the England team on the Gold Coast but was left out of the medals after mistakes on his floor routine, and admitted his habit of shutting himself off from the action around him could have cost him the gold on his favoured pommel.Ordinarily, Whitlock is advised by his long-time coach Scott Hann over potential last-minute changes to his routines in response to better-than-expected performances from his rivals.But as Hann was not one of the two coaches accredited by the England team, he was not present on the floor during the culmination of the competition, leaving Whitlock oblivious to his opponent’s career-best performance.“It’s a shame Scott wasn’t on the floor with me,” said Whitlock. “Obviously I don’t watch anyone else and quite often the last-minute decisions that Scott and I have made a few times now have made the difference.“I know Rhys is a good pommel worker but I’ve never watched one of his routines. After the Olympics it even took me a year to watch my own. I just need to do the best routine that I possible can and then it is into the judges’ hands.”Whitlock will continue to focus primarily on floor and pommel for the remainder of this year, although he and Hann remain coy on whether he will return to challenge for the sport’s ultimate prize of the all-around competition in Tokyo.“My options are still open,” added Whitlock. “This has given me a huge motivational push. It’s exciting to go back and be really picky and try to make my pommel routine undeductable. For now at least, that’s the goal.”:: Show your power of support by playing the new version of ‘Jerusalem’, Team England’s Official Anthem in association with npower – the proud partner of Team England https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3I5-g0Gus


£12m school approved for Burntisland but £900k shortfall recognised

May 20 2011

Plans to build a primary school in Burntisland, where pupils have to eat their lunch on the floor, have been approved by Fife Council. The revelation was given by Councillor George Kay, who is one of the representatives for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy, who said it was a "no brainer" regarding which choice the local authority had to make. Members of Fife Council's education committee met at Carnegie College's Whitlock Energy Centre Collaboration Centre, Rosyth, to discuss a report on the proposals for a new primary school. The preferred option of constructing a 'new build' located at East Toll Park at an estimated cost of £12.4 million was agreed by the committee, although a shortfall of £900,000 will have to be met. Councillor Kay said he was like a "boy at Christmas" and that "Christmas had come today" with regard to his feelings about the new facility. And he encouraged committee members to pass the plan so he could take home the message to the children and their parents. "I want to bring back a positive message to children and parents in Burntisland," he said, "I am making a plea for a new build for this school." "There is a difference between qualitative and quantitative part of the shortfall of £900,000. That figure represents two days' work elsewhere.Sitting on floor"This new school will mean that the children will actually have seats to eat their lunch. At present the children have to have their lunch whilst sitting on the floor how much more of that can we tolerate?" "We must look to have a new build for this school." Committee convener Councillor Douglas Chapman added, "This new school in Burntisland will be fantastic. I am relaxed about the £900,000 shortfall." However, Councillor Kay Morrison, who is one of the representatives for Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch, said she thought the 'shortfall' was a lot of money and said she had "evidence" that certain members of the public did not trust Fife Council and saw it as the "big bad wolf." "It's extremely important that we get a new primary school for Burntisland so we need to find that money," she said. "However, a lot of local people have been confused along the way so we need better communication." This was disputed by Mr Chapman and Mr Kay, who said the majority of people in Burntisland favoured a new school and were "enthusiastic" about it. The committee agreed to a new build option, with work estimated to start on site in 2013 and be completed in 2014.

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

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.


Boat trips along the Tay between Perth and Dundee launched

May 12 2018

The first in a summer series of boat trips along the River Tay was officially launched on Friday. The return journeys between Perth and Broughty have been launched in a collaboration between Perth and Kinross Council and the Tay and Earn Trust. Bosses say the Tay is "the jewel in Perth's crown" and the venture is an exciting new way to make the most of one of the city's greatest assets. It follows the success of similar trips last year. The schedule has now been extended from May to July, offering passengers a fresh way to view Elcho Castle, Kinnoull Hill and other landmarks from the river. Shorter voyages, from the Fergusson Pontoon to Kinnoull Hill are also on offer, taking people under the Friarton Bridge and past the Willowgate Activity Centre before returning to Perth. The council and the trust are working in partnership with David Anderson Marine who will be providing the Broughty Ferry trips and Tay Maritime Action (Taymara). Perth and Kinross Council's environment, enterprise and infrastructure convener, councillor Angus Forbes, said the team were delighted to be able to offer the service this summer. "Qualified crews will provide safe access to the exciting River Tay marine environment, providing a memorable experience for all," he added. Perth and Kinross Provost Dennis Melloy said: “The Tay is an important and unique asset for Perth and improving access to it by offering boat trips is a great way to attract visitors to the area. “It is important that we continue to develop opportunities on the river. Having the pontoons in place is an important stage in continuing the delivery of the infrastructure to support this. “I hope that visitors and residents of Perth and Kinross will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity." Simon Clarke, chairman of the Tay and Earn Trust said: “This year's visitors will not only be able to explore the Activity Centre but also be able to sample the home made cakes at Willowgate Café. “The Willowgate destination continues to grow and is proud to be working with Perth and Kinross Council in introducing and re-introducing people to the jewel in Perth’s crown that is the River Tay." Due to the tidal nature of the river, the trip will run at different times throughout the day. Tickets start at £9 per adult and can be found at perthcity.co.uk/boating-on-the-tay.

Other sports

Darts superstar Michael van Gerwen keen to enjoy more Scots success as he prepares to play in Angus

August 11 2016

The best darts player in the world is coming to an oche near you, with Michael van Gerwen heading to Angus. The hugely popular “Mighty Mike” will face Australian Simon Whitlock at Montrose Town Hall on November 3. The Dutchman is the second most successful player in the history of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) behind English legend Phil Taylor. He is also widely regarded to be the finest talent to have picked up a dart and raised the roof during a Premier League match in Aberdeen in February when he recorded the highest-ever televised average score of 123.4 in a match against Michael Smith. Scots fans, despite having their own heroes to cheer in two-time world champion Gary Anderson and the flamboyant Peter Wright, have taken Van Gerwen to heart and he is sure to prove a big draw when he lines up against Whitlock. He has already sampled plenty of success on Scottish soil and can’t wait to get back. Van Gerwen said: "I want to win everywhere I play and I have done some fantastic things in Scotland, like winning the World Series. “I also hit the highest-ever average on TV when I played there in the Premier League. “Maybe there is something about playing in Scotland that brings out the best in me! “So you can say I'm really looking forward to this one." Whitlock will be up against it when he faces the man whom many believe to be the most skillful man to have played the sport. However, the Aussie said: "I'm excited about this event. “It is a chance for me to meet some more Scottish darts fans. “They always make me feel welcome so I'm looking forward to it. “It is a great place to play darts and I am sure it will be a fantastic night." Tickets can be purchased from the box office on 01738 449271 or from the Black Abbot pub in Montrose (01674 678724) for £40.