Will electric vehicles pay the road charge?

Under the current proposals for road charging as part of a Sustainable Travel Zone, drivers of electric motor vehicles (unless exempt) would be required to pay the road charge and would not receive a discount.

The GCP did consider a pollution charge as an alternative to the Sustainable Travel Zone, with zero emission vehicles exempt from the charge. The benefits of this scheme were forecast to be limited, though, as the income generated from the charge, which is essential to fund a better bus network, would reduce as more people switched to driving electric cars. Improvements to the bus network are central to the current proposals to provide a genuine alternative to private cars for those travelling into and around Cambridge and making rural journeys.

Incentivising the adoption of electric vehicles by a concession or discount to the road charge would also increase inequality, as those who could afford to buy a new or newer vehicle would then pay less to drive in the Sustainable Travel Zone. Switching to electric vehicles would indeed reduce air pollution, but would not do anything to relieve congestion in Cambridge. Greater Cambridge is a growing area and by 2031 there are forecast to be 44,000 new jobs, 33,500 more homes and a 28% increase in population. The congestion is therefore forecast to get worse in the future unless something is done to change how we travel.

The only vehicles that can be charged under the scheme are ones registered with the DVLA. Vehicles without registration plates, such as electric cycles and electric scooters, would not be charged. Electric mopeds and electric motorbikes, which do have registration plates, would be charged.