New number plates to be launched from autumn, as Ministers announce new £12m zero emission vehicle research funding boost
The government has today confirmed it is to introduce green number plates from this autumn, in a bid to help drive demand for electric vehicles (EVs) as part of the UK's economic recovery plan.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps today announced that following a recent consultation Ministers have approved plans for the new plates, which are designed to make it easier for cars to be identified as zero-emission vehicles.
Advocates of the approach hope that it will make it easier for local authorities to design new policies that will incentivise more motorists and businesses to make the switch to EVs.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said that the plates should support local initiatives such as cheaper parking and cost-free entry into zero-emission zones where those with a green number plate will be recognised as eligible.
The plates will feature a green flash on the left-hand side and will be available for zero-emission vehicles only.
"A green recovery is key to helping us achieve our net zero carbon commitments while also promoting economic growth," said Shapps. "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."
Andy Eastlake managing director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), welcomed the move to bring all vehicles - cars, vans and trucks - within the scope of the green number plates initiative.
"The initiative provides a visual 'identifier' which will enable easier application of regulations and incentive schemes applied at local level - though enforcement will rely on number plate recognition," he explained. "While the identification of zero tailpipe emissions is important - particularly in terms of dealing with local air pollution and its consequent health effects - going forward we'll need to give greater consideration to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and disposal of vehicles in order to deliver on net zero road transport."
The government also today announced a new £12m zero emission vehicle research funding programme from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
The bulk of the funding will be delivered through Innovate UK and will see £10m made available through a new Zero-Emission Vehicle Innovation Competition (ZEVIC), which will invite applicants to bid for project funding to support advancements in both battery electric and hydrogen vehicles, as well as charging infrastructure.
Meanwhile, OLEV is to provide £2m to UK small and medium businesses to support their research into zero-emission vehicles in areas such as battery technology, which could be used by major vehicle manufacturers in future electric vehicle production.
"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," Shapps said.
The news is the latest in a series of initiatives from the government designed to accelerate the transition towards greener transport infrastructures as part of its economic recovery package.
Shapps has previously announced a multi-billion pound programme to promote active travel and pushed through a relaxation of rules designed to make it easier for local authorities to pedestrianise streets and install cycle paths. He also announced the launch of a 'Jet Zero Council' late last week, which aims to bring together businesses, researchers, and policymakers to accelerate the development of low carbon aviation technologies.
Meanwhile, speculation is mounting over the extent to which the government's imminent stimulus package will support the green transport sector. Reports have suggested the government is considering increasing funding for EV charging infrastructure, doubling grants for electric cars and vans, and stepping up support for the industry's supply chain.
However, environmental campaigners remain concerned the stimulus package could also provide significant new funding for road building programmes, while businesses have warned any attempt to accelerate the shift to EVs need to focus on urgently boosting manufacturing capacity given lengthy waiting lists for zero emission models.
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