Are you an MBPA tripping over LEZ, CAZ, ULEZ?

I remember tripping over DPA when I first joined the BPA team as for me it meant Data Protection Act but to the BPA it means Disabled Parking Accreditation.

It seems acronyms are used everywhere in the parking profession. At BPA HQ we keep a list of acronyms to hand, which on joining the organisation is invaluable.  

Three letter acronyms are the worst as there are too few alternatives. So even though there may not be much confusion in context, the first thing that springs to mind is not likely to be correct, which brings you to a screeching halt while you think about it – like a confusing mis-spelling of a word.

Others are just difficult to say, when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) became BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) we were all questioning the acronym. Is it pronounced bees or be-is? Or bise like dice?

Now as we see the air quality standards appear in acronym form more and more, again I call acronyms into question. So here are the terms explained:

Clean Air Zones (CAZ) bring together immediate action to improve air quality with support for cities to grow while delivering sustained reductions in pollution and a transition to a low emission economy. These Clean Air Zones will be targeted at areas of each city where the air quality problem is most serious. Similar zones in Germany and Denmark have been shown to lead to an improvement in air quality.

Clean Air Zones fall into two categories:

  • Non-charging CAZs – These areas are focused on improving air quality but methods do not include the use of charge based access restrictions.
  • Charging CAZs – These are zones where, in addition to other methods, vehicle owners are required to pay a charge to enter if they are driving a vehicle that does not meet the particular standard for their vehicle in that zone.

Six cities will have CAZs within 3 years: Leeds, Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, London and Southampton.

Next you have a Low Emissions Zone (or simply "LEZ"). This was introduced to the UK by Transport for London on February 4th, 2008 and covers most of Greater London. The aim of the LEZ was to reduce pollution levels in Central London to help the city meet its European Union air pollution obligations. The LEZ required commercial diesel powered vehicles operating within the zone to pay a daily fee unless their vehicles meet certain emission standards.

From September 2019 London will introduce an "Ultra Low Emission Zone – ULEZ" within the existing Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) where all cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will need to meet even tighter exhaust emission standards to travel without charge in central London[1].

If your vehicle does not meet the ULEZ emissions standards and the daily charge is not paid, a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) will be issued payable by the registered owner or operator. This penalty is in addition to any CC or LEZ penalties received. 

Acronyms can improve memorability.
The proper use of acronyms can benefit listeners, first and foremost memorability. For example, would you be more likely to remember National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA? Light Emitting Diode or LED? Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus or SCUBA?  

Perhaps this is the reason they are being used so frequently on the subject of air quality. We know this is a touchy subject for the Government, and other than BREXIT, is high on the agenda. As we see these acronyms being used more and more we should remember what the zones mean to us.

There are 3 key takeaways to using acronyms effectively:

  • Always use acronyms by conscious choice, not habit.
  • Define an acronym the first time you use it. This applies to both spoken and written communications.
  • Cut back on using so many acronyms! You may see an improvement in the efficacy of your communications.            



[1] The emissions standards set for cars, vans and minibuses in a ULEZ will be Euro 4 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel), while diesel powered HGVs, Buses and Coaches will be required to meet the strict EURO 6 Emission Standard for Particulate and NOx.

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