Could this scheme encourage UK drivers to buy electric vehicles?

An electric car charges at a roadside charging point
An electric car charges at a roadside charging point
By Rosie Frost
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The UK government has announced new green number plates on electric vehicles that could offer drivers extra perks.


In a move intended to drive the UK towards zero net emissions targets, the government has announced that they are considering the introduction of new green number plates to help identify electric vehicles.

As a way of improving the visibility of “zero tailpipe emission vehicles”, the Department of Transport (DofT) hopes that the change to green will “celebrate and encourage the uptake of electric vehicles”. If adopted these number plates could then be used to provide owners with benefits like free or cheap parking and the ability to use bus lanes as vehicles with “zero emissions” would be easier to single out.

UK Government Department of Transport

The announcement forms part of the UK government’s £1.5 scheme which looks to make the country the best place in the world to own an electric vehicle. In a press release, the DofT says since the publication of this plan, it has seen record registration of “zero emission vehicles” and has marked its intention to become the first G7 country to legislate for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, called the new number plates “a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads”. According to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales of all-electric vehicles have risen sharply in the UK since last year despite an overall drop in car sales.

UK Government Department of Transport
A mock up of how the green number plates could lookUK Government Department of Transport

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Is a green number plate enough?

Some charities, however, believe that there is a lot more the government could be doing. Friends of the Earth campaigner, Jenny Bates, said “Green number plates may encourage some people to choose cleaner cars, but if ministers really want to boost the take-up of electric vehicles they should introduce more charging points and better financial incentives.”

The campaigner also highlighted the importance of encouraging people to use greener transport alternatives like rail season tickets and e-bikes to help reduce the number of cars on the road. “It’s not just exhaust emissions that are the problem: brake and tyre wear produces the most health-damaging fine particle pollution,” she added, “ the only real solution to the impact of road transport is to cut traffic levels”.

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