The Edinburgh Tyre Extinguishers, part of a loose international collective, described owning an SUV or 4x4 in the city as “immoral” and said they intend to step up their action to the point where it is ‘impossible’ to own one of he vehicles in Edinburgh.
The controversial activists who target the vehicles by letting their tyres down overnight told the Evening News that they are determined to step up their action, but insisted they would not target ‘working class’ neighbourhoods.
The group have targeted a number of areas across the city in recent weeks, infuriating car owners, including at least one NHS worker who was was late for work after finding her tyres deflated. Another motorist whose vehicle was targeted in Leith urged other owners to inform the police “before someone is injured or killed.”
Notes were left on the vehicles they target entitled ‘Attention – your gas guzzler kills.’ Motorists in several areas across the city were hit in recent weeks including the New Town, Morningside and Portobello.
A member of the group who lives in Edinburgh told the Evening News: "We would never target working-class areas. But our actions will continue, in this city and beyond. Until we see SUVs put on the scrapheap - by politicians or people learning that buying one means it will likely have its tyres deflated - we will continue our action.”
The activist said measures being planned in the city including a congestion charge for motorist driving into Edinburgh didn’t go far enough.
"Cars must be designed out of cities. Edinburgh is a small city with relatively good public transport. Most people don't need to drive. We want bans on SUVs in urban areas, pollution levies to tax SUVs out of existence, and massive investment in free, comprehensive public transport.
"We have been compelled to act because asking politely for safe streets, clean air and climate action has failed. If governments and politicians won't protect us, we will protect ourselves by making it impossible to own a huge polluting vehicle in Edinburgh."
The group which claims to have ‘disarmed’ nearly 2000 SUVs across the UK encourages people to visit their website to learn how to deflate tyres. Justifying their actions the Edinburgh member cited the surge in popularity of SUV vehicles globally as disastrous for the environment.
Recent research shows SUV sales increased 10 per cent between 2020 and 2021 putting them on course to make up nearly half – 45 per cent – of global car sales and making them one of the largest contributors to increase in global CO2 emissions.
“We are people from all walks of life. Many of us have never done anything like this. We have been forced into this position.”
"We are trying to prevent climate change, which is causing and will cause millions of deaths. In the climate emergency, with people dying every day, our moral responsibility is to take action.”
"Right now there is a deadly heatwave in South Asia. In this context, owning a huge unnecessary vehicle that causes much more emissions than smaller cars is immoral, and it must be stopped.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police are aware that a number of vehicles in the North East of Edinburgh have had their tyres deflated and activist group leaflets placed on them. Officers are currently investigating.
“If you discover your tyres have been deliberately deflated or if you have any information about this, please contact police on 101.”