Merchiston Community Council (MCC) has received reports of residents in Bruntsfield, Merchiston and elsewhere having their car tyres deflated by climate activists in a campaign against large Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and 4x4s. While recognising justifiable concerns about the potential safety risks caused by such actions, together with increased potential for polarisation and confrontation, MCC also advocates that everyone has a responsibility to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Merchiston Community Council’s commitment to combatting climate change and increasing public awareness was demonstrated by MCC declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency, following the international concerns highlighted by the COP26 Conference.
MCC recognises that reducing exhaust pollution and vehicle congestion are major public health problems that are difficult to resolve; there is also growing evidence that tyre wear particles (from electric, combustion, hybrid, and commercial vehicles) are a big contributor to health-damaging air pollution. It is widely recognised that heavier vehicles generate a disproportionate amount of pollution.
MCC advocates that it is desirable to reduce the volume of car use (especially SUVs in cities) and encourage public transport use, walking and cycling instead.
MCC has supported moves such as the introduction of “quiet routes” by Edinburgh City Council in order that more people, including schoolchildren, can safely walk or cycle to work/school instead of piling into a car.
MCC’s role includes standing up for residents. While tyre deflation activists may feel strongly and may be well intentioned, many residents regard tyre deflating incidents as anti-social, and likely to generate confrontation, road safety risks and unintended consequences, including immobilising vehicles relied on for family emergencies and other essential use.
Police Scotland have stated: “This is a reckless & potentially dangerous act that could put drivers & rother road users at risk”.
MCC suggest that most residents would agree that placing a “pollution risk warning” notice prominently on the windscreen of a vehicle perceived to be generating excess pollution would be a more constructive way to highlight the problems of vehicle emissions and would also strengthen public awareness about the very real public health risks from air pollution from vehicles.