The UK government published a consultation document on 22nd October 2019. The Department for Transport is suggesting that “green” vehicles, those using electric and hydrogen fuel technologies, should display green number plates instead of the usual white ones. The thinking behind the proposed scheme is that green number plates would give local authorities and others a quick and simple way to distinguish low-emission vehicles from those fuelled by more polluting, traditional petroleum products.
Incentives could be introduced to encourage the use of green vehicles and display the green plates and drivers may enjoy benefits such as privileged access to bus lanes. However, CPT UK, the trade body for the bus and coach industry has criticised the idea that cars might use bus lanes, saying that it could worsen congestion and prompt people to abandon public transport.
The government’s preferred plate design would include a “green flash”, meaning that the left-hand end panel, usually blue where present on current plates, would be green instead. It is not suggested that the whole plate should be green as that could interfere with readability and make recognition difficult for automatic number plate recognition systems such as speed and car park cameras.
In the consultation document, the DfT suggests that the green number plates scheme should be voluntary and that car owners should be free to opt out. The intention is a light touch scheme that raises awareness and encourages the use of less harmful fuels.
The scheme would be limited to ultra-low-emission vehicles (ULEVs), those with very low or zero tailpipe emissions. This means that electric and hydrogen technology vehicles would qualify but petrol and diesel cars would not. Hybrid petroleum/electric vehicles remain a point of discussion with the document presenting a range of options: some that would include hybrid cars in the scheme if they had tailpipe emissions of 50g/km or less and other versions that would exclude them and require zero tailpipe carbon emissions.
The document contains a full list of consultation questions and information on how to respond. The government invites responses to the consultation before 14th January 2020.