In December last year, the UK saw the introduction of green license plates to designate zero-emission vehicles. The number plates were also to enable local authorities to grant electric vehicles special rights. However, the uptake is lagging as new findings suggest.
According to a survey by the New Scientist, no councils have introduced incentives in England following the green number plates becoming available nine months ago. The magazine had asked around the 342 local authorities, with those responding to the enquiry saying they hadn’t implemented any incentives that used green number plates.
Several had said they already had incentive schemes, such as free or discounted parking, for electric car drivers before the plates were introduced. Take London, for example, where zero-emission vehicles are exempt from the congestion charge. However, this is not checked with the license plate’s colour, but with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database – so all-electric vehicles are recorded, irrespective of whether they have regular or green license plates.
The New Scientist mentions that some Councils said they were considering using the license plates for incentives for the future. Jack Cousens at the AA motoring organisation confirmed this and pointed out to the magazine that several councils were working on providing some benefits, adding that “we need more councils to step up to the plate and deliver them faster.” However, he agreed that green number plates would increase public interest in electric vehicles.
This is also the line of the Department of Transport (DfT). “Green number plates could unlock several incentives for drivers and increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads, showing people that a greener transport future is within our grasp,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in summer 2020 on the planned introduction.
Still, a survey conducted by Nissan and YouGov last winter found 32 per cent of respondents more likely to buy an electric car because of the new license plates. Opting for the green number plate is optional upon registering an electric car.
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