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Electric cars should have ‘green badges’ and free parking, says thinktank

  Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Owners of electric cars should be able to park on yellow and red lines, and for free, a leading thinktank has said.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinks that electric cars should use a ‘green badge’ system, similar to the blue variety used by disabled drivers. It is hoped that consumers would be encouraged to trade-in their conventional vehicles for more energy efficient alternatives.  

Under the scheme, owners of green badges would be exempt from car parks charges and permit areas, and also be allowed to drive for free through congestion zones; toll roads like the M6 toll or Severn Bridge would also be free of charge.

Motoring organisation AA, however, feels that the plans could increase congestion and even have a negative impact on overall carbon emissions:

“Allowing them [electric car owners] to park on double yellow lines, which are there mainly to ensure good traffic flow, you may create problems. The disturbing irony is that these low emission vehicles could create more congestion, which would increase emissions from other vehicles and be a bit of an own goal,” said an AA spokesman.

The AA’s criticism also centered on the “saturation point”, with the number of electric cars eventually dominating relative parking availability. However, the AA did agree that cheaper parking charges for electric cars would be a positive thing.

A £5,000 government subsidy was launched for electric cars in 2011, with the aim of encouraging take-up from consumers. This saw sales of electric cars grow faster than the general car industry in 2012, although relative volume sales are still remarkably low; sales of electric and conventional cars were approximately 2,000 and 1.9m respectively in 2012.

The IPPR went as far to suggest that local authorities should fund the loss of parking charges by increasing charges for conventional cars, a move which would surely incur the wrath of most motorists. They also suggested fining owners of conventional cars parked in front of electric charging points. The IPPR would also like to replicate a trial in Norway whereby electric cars can drive in bus lanes.

The IPPR say that “the UK is already lagging behind other countries” on electric car ownership due to lack of education and a perception of being overly expensive:

“Although early days, Britain is currently behind other European countries and the US in terms of the take up of electric cars and other ultra-low emission vehicles. A ‘green badge’ scheme would help increase demand, giving a much needed boost to the industry and supporting other government policies like the ‘plug in’ grant.

“While we want to encourage innovation from local authorities, they need to act together to make sure their policy is uniform across neighboring areas. This will provide clarity for drivers about the privileges that they are entitled to as they travel around,” said Will Straw, IPPR’s associate director.”

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