Car parking is the bane of many people’s lives. Fighting for a spot is bad enough, but when faced with hefty charges for a Saturday afternoon shopping trip, it can turn a nice, relaxing day into something many of us would rather forget. Now Leeds City Council are aiming to give drivers something to smile about by introducing free parking to residents who own ultra-low emission vehicles.

A 12-month permit given to all Leeds’ residents will allow them to park their environmentally-friendly cars or vans for free in both pay and display bays on the street and in pay and display bays in council-run car parks. The council hope that by providing these free spaces, it will help consumers think about the effect their cars have on the environment, and make the choice to switch to lower emission vehicles.

Leeds Councils’ move comes as it’s revealed that Leeds is at severe risk of missing its European emissions targets for 2020, and could face fines of millions of Euros if it doesn’t up its green-friendly game. So it’s hoped that this new, innovative way of tempting car owners to buy an eco-friendly car could be the deal-breaker.

But how feasible is it? Leeds City Council may be pioneering the move, however would this work in towns and cities all over the country – and beyond? Sales of ultra-low emission vehicles doubled in the UK in 2015, however there are still relatively few on the roads compared to conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans. One of the main draws of electric cars is the significant savings that can be made. By reducing running costs from around 15p per mile to approximately 1p per mile, they are exceptionally efficient. Therefore, cutting down on potential car parking charges is almost certain to make electric vehicles appealing to drivers of covenantal cars looking to switch to something more economical.

UK sales of electric cars have seen a massive boom in the past year. From January to September 2015, Nissan’s 100% electric car, the Leaf, sold 43 per cent more than in the first nine months of 2014. Additionally, sales of the firm’s e-NV200 electric van have more than doubled since last year. Only time will tell whether the incentive will have an effect on consumers’ vehicle preferences. But with numerous other councils facing similar shortfalls, it’s doubtful that Leeds will be the only council looking into new ways to reduce the carbon emissions produced by residents.