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Green plates for electric vehicles?

25 October 2019

Fully battery electric and hydrogen cars and vans could carry a green marking on their registration plates under Government plans to raise awareness of the growing number of such vehicles on the road. 

The DfT says the proposal, on which consultation began this week, will also help local authorities to identify ultra-low emission vehicles, helping them to bring in incentive schemes, such as “access to bus or low emission vehicle lanes, electric charging bays, free or reduced rate parking or ultra- low emission zones”. 

The DfT is proposing a green panel on registration plates. It has ruled out all-green plates because automatic numberplate recognition cameras may struggle to read them. The current use of black lettering on a white or yellow background provides high contrast. 

The green plates would be available to qualifying cars, vans, taxis and motorbikes, but not to buses, coaches and HGVs. 

“Whilst we are not ruling out that green number plates could be applied to heavy vehicles in the future, they present a different proposition, each with different purchasing and public perception incentives, so are out of scope for now,” says the DfT.

The new plates would be non-mandatory, with vehicle owners free to opt out of the system.  

The DfT emphasises that the markings would not replace existing checks to see if a vehicle is eligible for a particular local incentive, such as using a bus lane. “The design of the plates would only be a soft enforcement aid, that provides a visual tool to help indicate vehicle type and eligibility.”

Confederation of Passenger Transport chief executive Graham Vidler criticised the idea of allowing zero emission cars to use bus lanes: “The suggestion shows a disconnect with recent initiatives to put bus at the heart of the local transport network and encourage more people to take the bus. This should be the focus rather than seeking to move people from one type of car to another.” 

Consultation closes on 14 January. 

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