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Robert Burgess said he was most annoyed about the letter the group left, criticising him for having a 4×4. The activists claim to have let down tyres on more than 100 vehicles in his Bristol neighbourhood.
The 78-year-old was a victim of the Tyre Extinguishers, who targeted SUVs and 4x4s parked in streets in Henleaze, Clifton and Westbury Park in the early hours of Wednesday morning, September 7, reports Bristol Live.
He said he was alerted to the fact that the rear driver’s side tyre had been let down on his ten-year-old Range Rover by a neighbour, who had also had her tyres let down.
Mr Burgess said what annoyed him the most about the incident was that what the Tyre Extinguishers were demanding in their letter and on a website, he already did.
“It’s not so much them talking about me having a 4×4 in a city, it’s that they know nothing about me or what I do, or what I need this vehicle for,” he said.
“They say I can get around just as easily by walking, taking the bus or cycling. But the truth is I already do exactly that.
“I only drive this car if I go somewhere outside the city. I do all the things they are suggesting.
“I’ve not driven into the city for months and months.
“We’re lucky enough we’ve got buses at the end of the road, and I go everywhere in Bristol by bus.”
Like the almost 100 SUV and 4×4 owners who discovered on Wednesday morning they had tyres deflated, Mr Burgess also found a letter on his windscreen.
“It was a very insulting letter – things like saying it’s a ‘vanity project’ for me to have this vehicle,” he added.
“That car is ten years old. I only do 4,000 miles a year in it, and hardly any driving in the city. As far as I’m concerned I’m already on board with what they are saying, the tone of it was really insulting,” he said.
Police have warned people in what they described as “more affluent” areas like Clifton, Westbury-on-Trym, Redland and Henleaze that their 4x4s are being targeted, and the campaign by the environmental activists has sparked a debate about whether what they do is criminal damage – tyres are not damaged, and Mr Burgess was able to pump his back up with a portable pump.
“It could be an offence of endangering someone. They’ve not damaged it but it’s dangerous if you drive away without knowing,” said Mr Burgess. “And it can’t do the tyre walls any good.”
The 78-year-old said the incident had not made him any more likely to give up his ten-year-old Range Rover.
“Not at all,” he said. “I know I won’t be able to drive it into the Clean Air Zone later this year, but I don’t anyway, so it won’t make any difference. I think the Government has not done too badly in reducing climate emissions overall.
“The letter said that people driving SUVs are more likely to kill people or be involved in accidents.
“Well I’ve been driving for 61 years and have a clean licence.
“They said it was ‘pure vanity’, but they don’t know how I use this vehicle and what my circumstances are.
“It’s not that big a car, but it is good for what I need, and if I want to take my neighbour out with his wheelchair, I can.
“They told me: ‘You will have no difficulty getting around using public transport’, well I do that anyway.
“It’s pretty poor. It’s not really logical, they say they will target even electric or hybrid SUVs, so it’s just anti-car altogether,” he said.
The Tyre Extinguishers “disarmed” – as they put it – more than 600 vehicles around the world on Tuesday night, being their largest-ever night of action against SUVs according to the group.
The protesters believe that SUVs are “unnecessary luxury emissions” and a “climate disaster”, among others, and want to see them banned in urban areas.
They claim to have now deflated tyres on around 9,000 SUVs in cities across the world since March and say they are set to surpass their goal of 10,000 SUVs deflated by Christmas.
Marion Walker, Tyre Extinguishers spokesperson, said: “Six months in and 9,000 SUVs later, our movement is just beginning.
“Our strength is that anyone, anywhere can take part using our website.
“Politely asking for climate action, clean air and safer streets has failed. It’s time for action.
“If enough people join us, it will be impossible to own an SUV in the world’s urban areas, and we’ll see these death machines piling up on the scrapheap.”
Earlier this year, Avon and Somerset Police’s neighbourhood team in Stoke Bishop issued a statement stating that vehicles are being targeted in “more affluent areas”.
It stated: “We have been made aware of a group of activists who call themselves the Tyre Extinguishers.
“This group target SUV & 4X4 type vehicles and will deflate the tyres on these, causing a nuisance to the owner to reflate the tyre.
“At present, they are mainly operating in the Clifton, Redland, Cotham and Stoke Bishop area as these are affluent areas.
“Advice from the police at the moment is to report any incidents to us, even if no crime has been committed, it is good for us to log the incidents so we can see patterns in behaviour.
“You can purchase anti-theft dust caps which will ensure this group cannot deflate your tyre in the future. If you have a driveway, park your vehicle there instead of on the road.”
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