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Number plates for eco-friendly cars go green

Mike Wright
The green 'splash' version of the number plate - Credit: Department of Transport

Green number plates could be fitted to energy-saving cars in the biggest shake up of vehicle registration rules in nearly 50 years, the Department for Transport has announced.

The plates, which will eventually give electric car drivers privileges such as using bus lanes and cheaper parking, have been unveiled as part of a drive to increase take up of greener vehicles.

Images of three proposed designs for the new plate have been released by the DfT as part of a consultation on the new scheme.

The last time number plates changed colour was in 1973, when rear registrations were changed to yellow.

The public is being asked to choose between a completely green plate, or one with a green flash or a green dot.

The Government is also consulting on which electric and low-emission vehicles should qualify for the new plate, which could be introduced as soon as late 2021.

The scheme is part of a general push by the Government to reach its net zero emissions target by 2050.

In a comment piece for the Telegraph, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Fully green number plates, or plates with a green design element, would allow people all over the UK to spot vehicles based on their environmental impact.

“This government is making it more convenient than ever before for drivers to switch to a clean, zero-emission car. We want these cars to become the new normal – and to be as easy to charge as a smartphone.”

The green 'splash' version of the number plate Credit: Department of Transport

Following the 12-week consultation, the Government said it will lay out the legislative steps needed to implement the scheme, which will hinge on how drastic the final changes are to the current number plates.

Other issues being consulted on are whether the new plates will only be available to new vehicles or whether drivers will be allowed to apply for them for their current vehicles and whether the plates should be mandatory for cars that qualify.

Once the plates start appearing on UK roads, councils will be encouraged to grant new incentives for holders such as parking discounts.

Nottingham City Council already runs a scheme were electric vehicles receive a green sticker that allows them to use a bus lane in congested part of the city.

Mr Shapps continued: “Several local authorities have already indicated plates with a green element would enable clearer visual recognition of vehicles eligible for local incentives, such as access to bus lanes, ultra-low or zero emission zones and cheaper parking.

“We are on the cusp of a quiet revolution in transport, which the UK is committed to lead – one green number plate at a time. I think that’s something to shout about.”

The green dot option Credit: Department for Transport

Other countries are already operating similar incentive schemes, such as Canada, where drivers who qualify for a green licence plate have certain toll road charges.

The consultation comes after Mr Shapps announced other new measures aimed at encouraging more people to switch over to electric cars.

Last month he pledged £70 million to improve the UK's charging network by building 3,000 new rapid electric vehicle chargers across the country.

The Government is also currently consulting on requiring charge points to be built into all new homes with a parking space.

Latest figures from the Department for Transport show that there are now over 220,000 registered electric and hybrid cars on the UKs roads as of June.

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.”

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