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UK Proposes New Incentives for Electric Cars in Clean Air Zones

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【Summary】In order to meet European clean-air standards, authorities plan to roll out special benefits for EV drivers, such as priority at traffic lights and access to one-way streets. The latter privilege would work by allowing EVs to go against the normal flow of traffic in an extra lane.

Original Michael Cheng    Oct 25, 2016 11:05 PM PT

By Michael Cheng

The UK has huge plans to streamline its clean air initiatives in the next four years. Earlier this month, the government announced a ground-breaking proposal that focuses on improving air quality in five highly populated English cities by 2020. The somewhat controversial program takes aim at smoke-belching commercial vehicles, while offering incentives for EV owners.     

"We need to tackle air pollution and creating Clean Air Zones will improve the quality of life for people who live and work in our towns and cities, both now and in the future," said Therese Coffey, UK environment minister.

The five clean air zones that the Department for Transport plans to target includes the following cities: Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. Read on to learn how the proposal could affect local consumers of EVs and Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs).

Getting into the Priority Lane

In order to meet European clean-air standards, authorities plan to roll out special benefits for EV drivers, such as priority at traffic lights and access to one-way streets. The latter privilege would work by allowing EVs to go against the normal flow of traffic in an extra lane. Moreover, the Draft Clean Air Zone Framework suggests offering discounted rates for paid parking slots in the city to individuals who adhere to best practices in lowering harmful car emission levels. The Government Car Service, which already owns four EVs, also intends to expand its fleet through the addition of two new Nissan LEAF electric cars.

Through the framework, the environment department has made several eye-opening recommendations surrounding the lack of infrastructure for EVs. In a move to address EV charging issues in the area, the group has allocated $42 million for new charging stations. The charging hubs will be strategically installed along popular routes, destinations and buildings. In addition to EVs, it will also cater to electric scooters and battery-powered skateboards.

The local authority's proposal could not have come at a better time. Air pollution is responsible for over 50,000 deaths in the UK per year, which equates to roughly $33.7 billion in damages. On a positive note, adoption rates for ULEVs in the area are on the rise. In the past two years, Britain experienced a whopping 250 percent increase in ULEV registrations. Industry experts closely monitoring the sector expect this trend to develop prolifically in the next decade.

 

 

Restricting Air-Polluting Cars

Individuals driving cars that fail to meet the framework's guidelines for clean air could face several penalties. Under the proposal, the government could implement fines to "dirty" buses and taxis. It is important to consider that this does not include private cars and motor bikes. The environment department confirmed that the group may also roll out stricter licensing requirements for owners of public transportation vehicles.

"Requiring just five cities in the UK to introduce clean air zones doesn't solve a national problem which causes thousands of premature deaths. Other local authorities won't introduce voluntary clean air zones unless they are made to, or paid to," said Alan Andrews, a lawyer based in Britain.  

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