Zero-emission vehicles to get green number plates; ULEZ cuts NO2 by a third in London

Image credit: dft

Green number plates could be applied to zero-emission cars, granting them access to certain benefits by making them easily identifiable.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on the plans, which would only apply to vehicles conforming to the highest environmental standards.

Drivers of such vehicles could be granted certain benefits such as being allowed to use bus lanes and paying less for parking.

A similar scheme was trialled in Ontario, Canada, with drivers of electric vehicles given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes. Ontario subsequently saw an increase in electric vehicle registrations, DfT said.

The measure is part of the Government’s £1.5bn strategy for clean road transport.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.

“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.”

The DfT hopes more people will consider buying cleaner cars when they see the plates.

Elisabeth Costa, senior director at the Behavioural Insights Team, which is part-owned by the Cabinet Office, employees and innovation charity Nesta, 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.”

Three plate designs have been proposed for the new scheme:


Image credit: dft

Meanwhile new figures have shown that there are now 13,500 fewer polluting cars being driven into central London every day due to the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) which was introduced in April.

The scheme is in addition to the congestion charge and levies a £12.50 daily fee on motorists driving older and more polluting vehicles.

The London Assembly said that roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution has reduced by 36 per cent in the zone when compared to February 2017. An analysis from City Hall estimates that the reduction in NO2 pollution solely attributable to the ULEZ is 29 per cent.

77 per cent of vehicles that enter the zone now meet the ULEZ emissions standards, up from just 39 per cent in February 2017.

Since its introduction, there has also been a reduction in traffic between three and nine per cent as people turn to walking, cycling and public transport instead.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These figures prove without a doubt that ULEZ is exceeding expectations, reducing polluting vehicles and cleaning up our lethal air.

“I am determined to stop Londoners breathing air so filthy it is damaging our children’s lungs and causing thousands of premature deaths.

“The ULEZ shows what we can achieve if we are brave enough to implement such ambitious policies. I now hope the Government will match my ambition and amend their environment bill to ensure it has the legally binding WHO- recommended limits to be achieved by 2030 that we need to protect public health.”

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