The green 'flashes' on number plates will mark out zero-emission cars.

The first green number plates will be fitted to UK electric vehicles this week as part of a drive to increase awareness of zero-emission cars. The idea, which was first mooted back in 2018, has finally been cleared for use on the roads of Britain, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.

Under the scheme, the plates feature a green ‘flash’, similar to the blue ‘GB’ labels found at the end of some number plates. Under the rules, this green flash can be combined with the Union Flag identifier or any other national identifier allowed under current rules. The plates can be fitted to any electric vehicle (EV) regardless of age, as long as it produces no tailpipe emissions.

The government says it hopes not only to raise awareness of EVs, but also to help councils implement electric vehicle incentives that will improve air quality. It’s hoped the flashes will make EVs easier to identify, assisting councils with incentives such as cheaper parking for electric cars and cost-free entry into zero-emission zones.

Nissan green number plates

“We are going further and faster than any other major economy to decarbonise transport, improving air quality in our towns and cities in the process and harnessing the power of clean, green technology to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050,” said transport minister Rachel Maclean. “Not only will green number plates raise awareness of the increasing number of cleaner vehicles on our roads, they could also unlock a number of incentives for drivers. It’s clear there has never been a better time to make the switch to a zero-emission vehicle.”

The move follows a consultation on the topic of green plates, which have been under consideration for some time. At first, there was some debate over what form the green plates should take, with suggestions that the plates could be completely green. Other ideas included a simple green logo on the plates, but the DfT has settled on the green flashes at the left-hand side of the plate.

UK green license number plates

Although the design has been finalised for some time – Japanese car maker Nissan even showcased the plates earlier this year – the plates were only introduced on UK roads on December 8. Speaking in August, a Nissan spokesperson said the plates would prove “useful” in raising awareness of EVs.

"Anything that encourages electric vehicle use is to be encouraged,” they said, “and we think the green plates will prove incredibly useful in terms of raising awareness of the benefits of emission-free motoring.”