Tyre Extinguishers, Edinburgh: Police face calls to tackle 'nuisance' as eco protesters step up action
Police are facing calls to take action against the Tyre Extinguishers after the eco-protesters targeted so-called gas guzzler vehicles in another part of the Capital.
The protesters claim to have let down the tyres of around 200 SUVs and 4x4s in a series of nights of direct action after owners in Bruntsfield woke up to find their vehicles tyres deflated. The activists say they intend to continue their action until it is ‘impossible to own an SUV in Edinburgh’.
Now one MSP has written to the city’s most senior police officer asking him to explain what action the force is taking and to step up patrols in the worst affected neighbourhoods.
It’s at least the fifth time the loose collective has struck in the city since March following attacks in Leith, Portobello, Hillside, Marchmont, Bruntsfield and the New Town. Among those targeted include an on-call doctor who was late for her NHS shift after her tyres were let down.
The police have taken limited action so far apart from encouraging targeted motorists to contact them, largely because the vehicles involved have not been damaged, meaning that the protesters are not clearly committing any serious criminal offence.
However, one councillor claimed the actions amount to harassment after activitst told the Evening News they intend to target the same vehicles more than once. Several others have now voiced concerns as pressure mounts on Police Scotland to take action against the protesters.
An Edinburgh representative of the group told the Evening News: “Edinburgh is a small city with good public transport. Nobody living in the centre of town needs to own one of these death machines."
Margaret Graham, city-centre councillor said the actions should be treated as anti social behaviour. Mrs Graham said: “It’s so frustrating for people but the group are being very clever by not actually damaging vehicles. It should be viewed as anti social behaviour. It’s definitely a nuisance and a danger to people, as well as causing alarm. When people arein a rush, you can see how it would be easy to not notice the tyres are deflated and try to drive off.
"I agree with their aim. We do need to reduce the use of SUVs in all cities. As a council we are looking at a number of different measures to reduce emissions. But the way they are going about it is going to backfire. They are annoying people to the point they might make them determined to keep the vehicles, to push back against them. We need to have conversations to encourage people to change their cars and lifestyles.”
Lothians MSP Mile Briggs has written to the police asking them to increase patrols.
"This sort of antisocial behaviour is totally unacceptable and not the right way to go about making a statement regarding climate change.
"This approach could be potentially dangerous and will have the polar opposite of the desired effect activists want with residents in the Capital feeling angry at this vandalism taking place.
"I have written to Edinburgh's Chief Superintendent to find out what actions the police are taking to stop this anti-social behaviour and to increase patrols in the areas which have been targeted."
James Dalgleish, Leith Walk councillor, also voiced concerns about the attacks.
He said: “We need to change the way we live and travel. But deflating people’s tyres and vandalising private property is not the solution. It won’t encourage people to make a change. This instead makes people afraid to get into their cars, or scared of who could be hanging around their house late at night.
My plea to those responsible is - stop and think of more constructive ways to solve the climate crisis. We all have to be positive role models and lead by example. But they are showing us the opposite of that.”
Portobello councillor Tim Jones added: “I’m appalled by the actions of this group. I think it should be treated as criminal behaviour. It’s beyond inconsiderate and in particular, targeting vehicles when you don't know who owns them is highly irresponsible.
"It’s a disgrace. I do fully supporting the police in their efforts to deal with these people. I think we urgently need clarification on what crime is being committed here and what can be done. Ultimately, the actions they are taking are counter productive to their cause.”
Police Scotland have been contacted for comment.