Green number plates approved by Government

Tue 16 June 2020 View all news

The Government has approved the roll-out of green number plates from Autumn 2020. The Government says the scheme is a part of plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The plates will make it easier for cars to be identified as zero emission vehicles, helping local authorities design and put in place new policies to incentivise people to own and drive them.

For example, drivers could benefit from local initiatives such as cheaper parking and cost-free entry into zero emission zones where those with a green number plate will be recognised as eligible.

The plates will be identifiable by a green flash on the left-hand side and, although voluntary, will be available for all zero emission vehicles, including buses, vans, trucks, motorcycles and taxis.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "A green recovery is key to helping us achieve our net zero carbon commitments while also promoting economic growth.

"Green number plates could unlock a number of incentives for drivers and increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads, showing people that a greener transport future is within our grasp."

LowCVP has supported the introduction of green number plates and responded to the consultation about the introduction, launched late last year. Managing Director, Andy Eastlake, commenting on the initiative at that time said: "The number plate is a very good visual identifier; it's much easier to see than a vehicle sticker, is on both the front and back of the vehicle and, legally of course, it has to be prominently visible.

"The introduction of green number plates could be a powerful way to monitor and support incentives for the uptake of low emission vehicles through local initiatives and would also provide the potential for a consistent approach to be adopted across authorities.’

The announcement follows the conclusion of a consultation which invited comments from the public, local authorities and industry stakeholders from a range of sectors including motoring and consumer groups and vehicle manufacturers on how best to introduce green number plates.

Some key elements of the scheme are:

  • Eligibility is for zero tailpipe emission vehicles only (e.g. full electric or fuel cell). 
  • The design will be a green flash on the left-hand side of the number plate. A full green background could reduce the effectiveness of Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras (ANPR), and would also require a change to a British Standard.
  • Green number plates will be non-mandatory but opt-out for eligible vehicles, and open to new and existing eligible vehicles. The Government says this should maximise the uptake and awareness, raising the effectiveness of the plates, whilst maintaining goodwill and positive engagement with the scheme by allowing for scenarios where the plates were not wanted.
  • The scheme will be open to qualifying cars, vans, taxis and motorbikes, but following feedback from consultees, also buses, coaches and HGVs.
  • It will be a 'light touch' scheme, that fits into the existing number plate regime, and will only serve as a soft enforcement mechanism for local initiatives. This is principally to implement the scheme and capture the emerging vehicle market.

Alongside the green number plate launch, the Government also announced £10m funding for a new Zero Emission Vehicle Innovation Competition

The funding, made available through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) will be delivered through Innovate UK. The fund will invite applicants to bid for project funding to support advancements in both battery electric and hydrogen vehicles, as well as charging infrastructure.

OLEV is also providing £2m to UK small and medium businesses to support their research into zero-emission vehicles in areas such as battery technology, which could be used by major vehicle manufacturers in future electric vehicle production.

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