In 2006, the London newspapers carried a story about ‘Chelsea Tractors’ destroying the elegant Albert Bridge that crosses the Thames between Chelsea and Battersea Park.
The Victorian bridge had a two-tonne weight limit and Kensington and Chelsea (K&C) council seemingly led the press to believe that a cavalcade of Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes were undermining the very structure of this landmark.
Back then, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London were in full cry against the SUV, targeting them as "polluting". Problem is, CO2 is not pollution in the sense that it is locally damaging to health. London’s real problem (like many other UK cities) is with pollution such as the particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines.
Even though the EU threatened the UK with mega-fines for breaking EU air quality regulations, the politicians tied themselves in knots trying to demonise the SUV and CO2 emissions while ignoring the belching diesel exhausts causing genuine health problems.
Anyway, I smelt a large rat when I read the story about Albert Bridge. So I rang the K&C press office. I asked how many of the overweight vehicles crossing Albert Bridge were commercial and how many were private? The press officer didn’t know but said he would get back to me. He then said all the traffic engineers were "on holiday" and then sent me a text to say they didn’t know the figures.