Green plates for green cars

The Government has announced a consultation on introducing green number plates for zero emission cars.

The concept is being weighed up as it could help drivers benefit more easily from local incentives like free or cheaper parking and encourage greater uptake of new vehicle technology.

However, a strong element will be in helping encourage adoption through being able to demonstrate overtly the green credentials of the owner, especially since number plate recognition technology means that the need to so simply differentiate is marginal.

None-the-less the announcement marks progress in the Road to Zero Strategy, the £1.5bn package of support which aims to support the UK’s adoption of zero emission vehicles.

Through the introduction of green number plates, local authorities would have a useful visual identifier should they wish to introduce incentives to promote the use of zero emission vehicles, such as allowing these drivers to use bus lanes and to pay less for parking. A similar scheme was trialled in Ontario with drivers of electric vehicles given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes.

Elisabeth Costa, senior director at the Behavioural Insights Team, said: “The number of clean vehicles on our roads is increasing but we don’t notice as it’s difficult to tell clean vehicles apart from more polluting ones. Green number plates make these vehicles, and our decision to drive in a more environmentally-friendly way, more visible on roads. We think making the changing social norm noticeable will help encourage more of us to swap our cars for cleaner options.”

The consultation seeks views from industry and the public on a number of aspects surrounding the scheme, including vehicle eligibility, number plate design and the rollout of the plates.

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