Zero-emissions cars to get green number plates this year

The ‘green’ plates will indicate which vehicles are eligible for a raft of financial incentives…

Tom Harrison
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Posted 17 JUNE 2020

Vehicles classed as ‘zero-emissions’ will soon be identifiable by a green ‘flash’ down the left-hand side of their number plates.

As well as being eligible to bypass congestion zone charges and secure cheaper parking in certain areas, the green plates “could unlock a number of incentives for drivers,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explained.

Starting this autumn, the initiative is designed to make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) more appealing and makes up part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) £1.5 billion road pollution reduction strategy.

Incentive to switch?

It’s hoped the green plates will play a key role in increasing awareness of cleaner vehicles on the UK’s roads, incentivising drivers further to invest in electric technology.

But several commentators remain unconvinced this initiative alone will be enough for most drivers to overcome cost reservations.

Dan Hutson, Head of Motor at, said: “Providing an added incentive for drivers to go green could help accelerate the uptake in electric vehicles.

“However, this needs to fit alongside a range of measures to help motorists switch to greener vehicles otherwise the overall cost remains a significant barrier for many. Our own research shows that 3.7 million drivers are likely to switch to an electric car in the next three to five years but further measures to support eco-conscious drivers could help boost this number further.”

And the RAC’s Rod Dennis believes the “well-intentioned” move will do little on its own to encourage switching.

“We’d much prefer the Government looked at things like bringing in the right financial incentives,” he said.

Green recovery

The number plates announcement is the latest in a raft of initiatives set out by Government as the UK works towards meeting its pledge of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It follows hot on the heels of reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is mulling over a car scrappage scheme, through which drivers could receive up to £6,000 to exchange their petrol or diesel cars for an EV.

The DfT has also announced a £12 million injection into further zero-emission vehicle research, with £10m towards projects examining electric batteries, charging infrastructure and hydrogen vehicles.

Announcing the green number plates, Mr Shapps said: “A green recovery is key to helping us achieve our net zero carbon commitments while also promoting economic growth.

“Green number plates could unlock a number of incentives for drivers and increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads, showing people that a greener transport future is within our grasp.

“We're supporting small businesses to develop the transport tech of the future through a multi-million pound investment, ensuring that UK businesses remain at the forefront of low-carbon innovation and research.”