Dipesh Shah OBE, who has served as Chair of National Highways since September 2020, has announced that he will move on from his role with the UK Government-owned company when his current term of office ends later this year.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT), a short extension to Mr Shah’s tenure at the organisation – which is responsible for operating and maintaining the 4,500-mile strategic road network in England – has been agreed, as the department seeks his replacement.
Amid the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic – which was then at its height – Mr Shah took on the role to help oversee the delivery of the second road investment strategy, in addition to supporting a variety of key strategic initiatives for the organisation.
His time in office saw him work closely with the National Highways executive and board, as well as UK Government ministers and DfT officials, to assist in the transformation of England’s crucial road infrastructure.
The DfT has said that it will commence a process to find Mr Shah’s successor “soon”.
“I have been privileged and honoured to serve as Chair”
Reflecting on the news of his departure, Mr Shah said he had been “privileged and honoured to serve as Chair at National Highways, which plays such a pivotal role in connecting communities across England”.
“We have achieved much during my tenure, and I am grateful to everyone involved with National Highways for their welcome and support.”
Mr Shah said that he had told the Secretary of State earlier in 2023 about his intentions to leave the role, and that he would “continue to work with colleagues at National Highways to deliver our goals during the remainder of my time as Chair.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper signalled his gratitude to the outgoing Chair for his work over the past three years, adding that ministers and officials had “appreciated his collaborative approach.”
Three years of achievement for National Highways, but also excitement for the future
The announcement of the end of Mr Shah’s time as Chair gave cause for reflection on the accomplishments of the last three years. However, the organisation is also looking ahead to the prospects for the road network in the years immediately to come.
National Highways – formerly known as the Highways Agency, and later Highways England – said it expected to have sustained as many as 64,000 construction-industry jobs over the second road period from 2020 to 2025, in addition to giving the economy a £27 billion boost, mainly via a £10.5 billion network improvement programme.
In the period since 2020, 10 major improvement schemes have been completed. According to National Highways and the DfT, a further 23 schemes are under construction, and 25 are in the development phase, contributing to improvements in safety and journey reliability.
The company has also set out a new vision to drive down carbon emissions on the network to net zero, alongside progressing towards its target of a 50% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured by the middle of this decade.
Having enjoyed a highly successful professional life in both the public and private sectors, Mr Shah is set to continue with his other Chair roles outside National Highways, in addition to taking on further responsibilities.
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