Green ‘flash’ number plates to encourage the switching to electric cars and avoid congestion charges

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The transport secretary has also announced millions in funding for battery and hydrogen vehicle research.

Drivers of zero-emission cars are to have a green “flash” added to the left hand side of their number plates to show they are eligible to by-pass congestion zone charges or secure cheaper parking.

The change, which will be introduced in the Autumn, is aimed at making the switch to electric vehicles more appealing.

Announcing the decision the Transport Secretary Grant 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 mult-imillion pound investment, ensuring that UK businesses remain at the forefront of low-carbon innovation and research.”

The move to green flash number plates follows a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on the scheme last October as part of the government’s £1.5bn strategy to cut road pollution.

In June 2019 the then Prime Minister Theresa May pledged that the UK would produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A key part of that promise will be to drastically reduce or eliminate vehicle exhaust fumes.

And it would have the added benefit of reducing the amount of particulates in the air – small particles that can severely affect lung and heart function.

The number plate announcement follows reports last week that the prime minister was considering plans to give drivers up to £6,000 to exchange their petrol or diesel car for an electric model.

The CBI has also written to Boris Johnson suggesting a car scrappage scheme should be among his priorities for the UK’s post-coronavirus economic fightback.

In her letter, CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said that job creation and skills training for young people should be at the top of the government’s agenda – along with investment in the green economy.

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Welcoming the green flash number plate initiative, the President of the AA, Edmund King, said more than a third of the organisation’s members supported the change and the “electric vehicle revolution is now moving from amber to green”.

However the RAC said it believed financial incentives would prove more successful at persuading motorists to switch to electric vehicles.

Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the organisation, said: “While this is well-intentioned, we don’t believe green number plates on their own will do much to make people switch to an electric car.

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

In addition to the green number plate scheme the DfT also announced that £12m was being made available for further zero-emission vehicle research, with £10m going to projects examining advancements in electric battery and hydrogen vehicles, as well as charging infrastructure.

Another £2m would support research in areas such as battery technology.

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