Highways Sector Council and DfT agree first steps 'to transform industry'

Dominic Browne

The Highways Sector Council (HSC) has secured approval from the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England for its initial plans 'to transform the industry'.

The HSC proposals aim to support the 'delivery of the Government’s priorities and strengthen the UK economy as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic'.

The news comes after Highways first revealed that the HSC had handed in plans for a sector deal to the DfT late last year. What has been agreed so far seems to be a preliminary plan for further development.

There are four areas for development and focus, which the DfT and Highways England have agreed to. These are:

Environment: Supporting the transition to Net Zero, by developing a sector-wide plan, assessing asset classes, launching trials of zero carbon products/approaches, and testing innovative techniques for carbon lock-up.

Models: Identifying ways in which the sector can support the Government’s Project Speed, delivering more quickly and more productively; developing a business case which defines benefits to UK plc of having a five and ten-year local government funding programme.

Innovation: Supporting highways’ transition to digital particularly across the local and strategic network boundary

Skills: Undertaking a Highways Sector Skills Assessment to better inform future work in this area

The HSC said it will now 'work with DfT and Highways England to develop key deliverables for the highways sector that demonstrate real value to the government, road users and the wider economy'.

A DfT spokesperson said: 'The Highways Sector Council has made good progress in developing a set of proposals which are well aligned to key national and Departmental objectives.

'We are keen to see how HSC progresses in developing these proposals for the benefit of the highways sector throughout the UK.'

Elliot Shaw, Highways England's executive director of strategy and planning, said: 'We’re pleased to support the ambition set out by the Highways Sector Council. We look forward to continuing to work on these proposals with HSC in the coming weeks to develop the proposal further.'

Anna Delvecchio, founding member of the HSC and Mott MacDonald’s transportation development director said: 'We have been developing a series of proposals to establish better cross-industry collaboration with the Government to transform the sector. Developing the partnership has been a great example of public and private sector collaboration during the pandemic.'

She added: 'None of this would have been possible without the expertise and determination of Steve Berry who sadly passed away last month. Through his and the industry’s collective efforts, we are now much better placed to partner with the Government and support the country’s economic recovery.'

Leon Daniels, chair of the HSC said: 'It has been a privilege to chair the council during its formative period and we’ve made great progress towards establishing a partnership between government agencies and the private sector. This will be critical to delivering innovation, excellence and value for money.'

Established in 2019, the HSC includes major companies and professional bodies in its work to transform delivery in the sector, and improve how the sector works across a number of key areas including people and skills, innovation, safety, environment, value, investment and delivery models.

The HSC is seeking input from the industry to support the development of these initial areas of focus. Please register your interest by completing the form on the HSC website here.

HSC will be launching the task and finish groups shortly.

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