National Infrastructure Commission gets new chief executive

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has a new chief executive after James Heath, currently director of digital infrastructure at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was appointed to lead the organisation.

Heath, who was previously director of policy at the BBC, played a key role in leading DCMS through the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review and Telecoms Supply Chain Review and also had overall responsibility for broadband, mobile and telecoms security policy, and the Government's 5G trials and testbed programme.

Commenting on his new role, Heath said: “Infrastructure has shot to the top of the political agenda and this role offers an unparalleled opportunity to advise government on how to ensure future investment will deliver lasting benefits to communities across the UK. I will be joining a talented team and supporting a group of commissioners whose expertise offers huge value in shaping a strategic approach to infrastructure policy.”

NIC chair, Sir John Armitt, said: “I very much look forward to working with James as the commission continues to provide rigorous analysis of the future infrastructure challenges facing the UK in the decades ahead. It is an important task and one that James is well equipped to help us deliver.”

The appointment was made by the Treasury, in consultation with Sir John, following an open selection process. Heath, who will begin work at the commission later in the spring on a date to be finalised, succeeds Phil Graham, who in January moved to the Greater London Authority as executive director for good growth.

Heath will lead the commission’s secretariat of around 40 staff at a pivotal time for the organisation. The government is due to publish its National Infrastructure Strategy shortly, as a formal response to the commission’s landmark National Infrastructure Assessment published in July 2018. Following publication of the Oakervee review of High Speed 2, the government has asked the commission to conduct an assessment to inform a new integrated rail plan for the north and Midlands.

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