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UK government considering green number plates to identify zero-emission vehicles

23 October 2019 Ian Fletcher

The UK Department for Transport has announced that it will undertake a consultation to make zero-emission vehicles easier to identify. According to a statement, it will look at rolling out distinctive green registration plates. It added that this will raise awareness of the growing number of these types of vehicles on the country's roads as well as help drivers to benefit from incentives from local authorities which would need to be able to identify them easily. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Green number plates are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads. By increasing awareness of these vehicles and the benefits they bring to their drivers and our environment, we will turbo-charge the zero-emission revolution."

Significance: The move is an interesting measure that is designed to help stimulate further interest in such vehicles, as the government seeks to cut emissions. The press release included a statement from Elisabeth Costa, senior director of the Behavioural Insights Team, in which she 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." This suggests that some may consider it a badge of honour, while others may feel an element of guilt about using a vehicle that produces tailpipe emissions. However, as noted, it is also a way to easily identify such vehicles, which would simplify the roll-out of local schemes to incentivise them and help reduce emissions here. Suggestions include lower-cost car parking and access to bus lanes. The designs that will be put under consideration during the consultation that will be open to industry and the public include a fully green number plate with black lettering; an addition of a green flash on the plate; and the addition of a green dot or symbol. It will also consider vehicle eligibility and the roll out of the plates. This will close on 14 January 2020.


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