Angry Grove Park residents react to their tyres being deflated

Image above: Car targeted on Whitehall Park Rd

Residents vent about Tyre Extinguisher protest group 

On Tuesday morning (29 November) owners of SUVs in the Grove Park Area of Chiswick woke to find their tyres had been deflated by the environmental protest group The Tyre Extinguishers.

The Chiswick Calendar has spoken to some of the owners of the targeted vehicles who told us they are angry not just because they were inconvenienced, but because the stunt was dangerous and misguided, and also ironic, since the perpetrators appeared to target some less polluting vehicles while leaving some of the more polluting ones.

Tyres on 30 cars were let down across Whitehall Gardens, Whitehall Park Road and Wolseley Gardens, just south of the A4, on Monday night. Some vehicles only had one tyre deflated while others had multiple. All had a yellow leaflet attached to their windshield by the group, explaining what they had done.

‘We have deflated one or more of your tyres,” the leaflet reads, ‘You’ll be angry, but don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s your car. We did this because driving around urban areas in your massive vehicle has huge consequences for others.’

The Tyre Extinguishers are an international group who specifically focus on SUVs because of the pollution they create. SUVs are estimated to be the second largest contributor to the increase in global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018 and if they were a country, they would be the 6th largest carbon emitter in the world.

Image above: A Range Rover with The Tyre Extinguisher’s leaflet on its windscreen; the car’s tyre

Resident had to use older, more polluting vehicle for journey after finding out tyres were deflated

Reactions from those whose cars were tampered with range from an irritated shrug of the shoulders to an angry defence of why they own an SUV. Mark Corney said he was very angry after finding out what happened to his wife’s car, a Range Rover Discovery.

“The irony is,” he said, “that car has got this additive called AdBlue that nullifies the emissions. It’s absolutely fine to drive around and meets the current emissions restrictions. Both of the offside tyres were let down and they put lentils in the cap, so it will constantly cause disruption”.

Image above: Mrs Corney’s SUV on Whitehall Park Rd

AdBlue is a diesel exhaust fluid mixture used in all heavy-duty diesel engines produced after January 2010. It reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide, a harmful gas that can damage the human respiratory system, by up to 90%. AdBlue is said to be ‘highly effective’ at reducing hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by by 50-90% and particulate emissions by 30-50%.

“She then had to go to the mother-in-law’s at the end of the road to borrow her car, which doesn’t meet the emissions standards, paid £12.50 to drive the car… I mean seriously?”

Mark noticed the yellow notice on the windscreen while on his way to work. Initially dismissing it as a flyer related to something else, he considered taking it off the windscreen to post it through the letterbox. “I’m really glad I didn’t,” Mark said, “because if my wife hadn’t seen it, she was taking our daughter to school. She was late, got in the car, saw the thing and realised the tyres were flat.

The deflated tyres were quickly fixed after neighbours found out via WhatsApp and offered to share a pump with those affected. While an inconvenience that can be quickly resolved, Mark said he worries one day someone will not notice there be a serious accident.

“There’s a significant safety concern with that type of behaviour. If someone hadn’t realised, had attempted to drive and wasn’t familiar with what was going on with the vehicle, they could have had an accident. There’s kids crossing roads around here, all sorts. I think it’s dangerous, I think it’s illegal, I think it’s unsafe. I think they should be strung up.”

Image above: stock image of a Toyota Yaris – a hybrid SUV

“Mindless vandalism”

One Grove Park resident, who preferred not to be named in case he was targeted again, said the Tyre Extinguisher protest was just “mindless vandalism”. He and his wife have two children, which he told me is the reason they need a larger car.

“Our tyres were deflated despite owning a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, which is obviously more socially conscious, and something they say on their website they won’t target. So it was a bit more of the mindless vandalism side of you ask me.”

Newer hybrid SUV models, which partially run on electric, release fewer emissions than their counterparts. But a 2020 report by Transport & Environment, described as Europe’s leading clean transport campaign group, found even the newest hybrid models pollute the climate far more than their manufacturers claim, even when starting with a full battery.

The anonymous resident felt the group wasn’t taking the right steps. Other cars were targeted on his road, but tyres on vehicles which polluted more were left untouched.

“The best example is that our car was targeted but there’s like a Bentley which is sitting there, a sports car, a V12 which was unscathed, there’s old SUVs which are unscathed. It just seems a bit random… it doesn’t make any sense.”

Image above: an targeted SUV at the junction of Wolseley Gardens and Whitehall Park Rd, the car’s tyre

“I can drive whatever car I want”

Deborah Liset, who lives on Wolseley Gardens, said she felt “very frustrated” after finding one the tyres on her Land Rover had been let down on Tuesday morning.

“I can drive whatever car I want,” Deborah told The Chiswick Calendar, “and actually I make a conscious effort of cycling and walking far more than I used to anyway before lockdown.”

“If they have an issue, I’d rather them come to the door but clearly they hide behind these sheets [the leaflets]. Equally, these sheets come from trees which they use a lot of clearly. You’d be better off if you want to save energy and save all this climate and save everything, why are you printing out sheets to put on windscreens when you could come to a person’s door?”

Though not every SUV or 4×4 on Wolseley Gardens was targeted, Deborah said “quite a number of people” had had their tyres deflated regardless of whether their model of car was new or old. The Tyre Extinguishers’ process of targeting vehicles confused her a bit, because she said her neighbour’s newer 4×4 BMW was left unscathed.

“We’ve got a great neighbourhood here” she said. “I asked the neighbours on the WhatsApp group if anyone had an air compressor and a neighbour did. We’ve since gone and bought one because I know they’ll probably come back at some stage… It didn’t impact us as much, but I’m sure it did others who had to be places be it meetings or emergencies.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Just Stop Oil starts new campaign of traffic disruption

See also: ‘Tyre Extinguishers’ hit cars parked in Grove Park 

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.