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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 12:46 GMT
Welsh dragon allowed on car plates
New number plate
New plates are friendly to Europe, but not to Wales
Welsh drivers are to be allowed to display the Red Dragon on their car registration plates.

The government has given the go-ahead to motorists who want to display national flags on their vehicle number plates.

An urgent review of the use of the Welsh national flag on car registration plates was ordered in September when new rules banned all such symbols except the European Union flag, with the letters GB underneath.

Welsh flag
The Welsh flag: At home on car plates

UK Transport Minister John Spellar ordered the Swansea-based DVLA review after complaints from Scottish and Welsh nationalists that the new regulations outlawed symbols which were previously popular with motorists.

Some police forces had said that such logos on registration plates made it more difficult to identify vehicles involved in driving offences.

But Mr Spellar said improved camera technology meant this was no longer a problem.

The law will now be changed to allow national flags to be displayed on the left hand side of the number plate, in the area currently set aside for the voluntary display of the European Union flag.

As well as the Welsh dragon, the Union Jack, the Cross of St George and the Scottish Saltire will also be given room to manoeuvre.

Number plates
The new plates which came out in September

"It is what the people of England, Scotland and Wales have asked for and strengthens their feeling of national identity," Mr Spellar said.

Welsh drivers could also include the letters CYM, for Cymru, the Welsh word for Wales, on plates, he said.

Drivers in England and Scotland will be able to use the words ENG and SCO respectively.

New-style registration plates introduced in September 2001 were the biggest change to the system in a century.

The new system has given Wales a taste of its own motoring identity, with the inclusion of "C" for Cymru, followed by one of three regional identifiers to indicate Cardiff, Swansea or Bangor.

The new regulations also let drivers voluntarily display the European circle of blue stars together with the 'Union Jack', allowing travellers within Europe to dispense with a separate GB sticker.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Send us your views on motorists carrying national flags on their car number platesFlags debate
Should people display national icons on cars?
See also:

28 Aug 01 | Wales
Cars to get Welsh identity
17 Feb 99 | UK
Number's up for car crooks
15 Nov 98 | UK
G1 FTS on a plate
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