Government proposes green number plates which allow bus lane usage

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Similar plates are used in Norway, Canada and China

Clean cars, vans and taxis could be equipped with green number plates under new plans to promote awareness of ultra-low emission vehicles. The special plates, which are already used by countries like Norway, Canada and China, could be available on green vehicles like electric and hydrogen cars, and are thought to encourage take-up among drivers.

The MP Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Grant Shapps said: “Last year the government published the Road to Zero strategy, which set out a comprehensive package of support to reach our ambition for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.

“We have since announced a 2050 net zero target for the UK. This puts the UK on track to end our contribution to climate change, becoming one of the first major economies to legislate for net zero emissions.

“Consumer awareness and acceptance of zero emission vehicles remains a crucial part of this transition so that individuals and businesses can make confident decisions about what’s right for them.

“As technology develops at pace and as we prepare for mass adoption of electric vehicles, green number plates provide a simple way to cut through the complexity and raise awareness of this revolution that is taking place on our roads.

“Being able to differentiate vehicles based on their environmental impact will help inform road-users and normalise the idea of clean vehicles.

“From individual drivers, to business fleets, to cities and local authorities, the scheme provides a huge opportunity for road users of all types to engage with and show leadership on transport emissions.

“Green number plates have the potential to be a powerful motivator to encourage road users to shift to cleaner vehicles.”

Government examples of how the new green number plates may look. DFT

It is proposed that green number plates would be available to qualifying cars, vans, taxis and motorbikes, but that buses, coaches and HGVs would be out of scope. Whilst the Government is not ruling out that green number plates could be applied to heavy vehicles in the future, they present a different proposition, each with different purchasing and public perception incentives, so are out of scope for now.

The announcement that vehicles with green number plates could have access to bus lanes has sparked discontent in the bus industry, with Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Chief Executive Graham Vidler commenting: “Electric vehicles are an important part of the UK’s drive to be net zero by 2050. The bus industry is fully supportive of this ambition and is already taking action to decarbonise the UK bus fleet.

“However, the suggestion that local authorities could use green number plates to allow electric cars to drive in bus lanes shows a disconnect with recent initiatives to put bus at the heart of the local transport network and encourage more people to take the bus. This should be the focus rather than seeking to move people from one type of car to another.

“Congestion cost the UK economy £13bn last year and pollution is significantly worse from vehicles stuck in traffic. If local authorities allow some cars to use bus infrastructure, which is already severely strained and in need of significant investment, we will simply increase congestion for bus passengers and drive people off the bus and back into cars the vast majority of which are not electric.

“Green number plates have a role to play in helping consumers choose electric cars. They have no role to play in allowing cars to access bus lanes, a move which would harm, rather than help, the UK’s drive to net zero.”

Any enquiries relating to this new scheme can be emailed to: [email protected]