UK Government proposes green license plates for ZEVs


In an effort to encourage uptake of electro-mobility to combat air pollution, the UK Government has launched a consultation on the potential introduction of new green licence plates for electric vehicles (EVs) and other types of zero emission cars.

As the UK moves at pace towards net zero emissions, the new initiative aims to raise awareness of the increasing number of zero tailpipe emission vehicles on the country’s roads, help their drivers to benefit more easily from local incentives such as free or cheaper parking, and encourage greater uptake of new vehicle technologies. The new proposals aim to highlight and accelerate the zero-emission revolution and help the government achieve its long-term target of no vehicle exhaust emissions by the middle of the century. The announcement marks another milestone for the government’s ‘Road to Zero Strategy’, a £1.5bn (US$1.9bn) package of support that aims to make the UK the best place in the world to own an EV. Since the strategy’s publication, the UK has seen record numbers of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) registered and the government has marked its intention to be the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.

Through the introduction of green number plates, local authorities would have a useful visual identifier should they wish to introduce incentives to promote the use of ZEVs, such as allowing these drivers to use bus lanes and to pay less for parking. A similar scheme was trialed in Ontario, Canada, with drivers of EVs given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Following the introduction of the measures, the province saw an increase in EV registrations.

The consultation seeks views from industry and the general public on a number of aspects surrounding the scheme, including vehicle eligibility, number plate design, and the rollout of the plates. The potential license plate designs include:

  • A fully green number plate with black lettering;
  • The addition of a green flash on the plate;
  • The addition of a green dot or symbol.

The initiative follows the Transport Secretary’s announcement of doubled funding for chargepoints on residential streets, and a consultation on requiring EV chargers to be built into all new homes with a parking space.

“The UK is in the driving seat of global efforts to tackle vehicle emissions and climate change and improve air quality, but we want to accelerate our progress,” explained UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps. “Green number plates are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognize 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.”

Elisabeth Costa, senior director at the Behavioral Insights Team, commented, “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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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.