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Shell UK Chairman takes non-executive role at Active Travel England

Deniz Huseyin
04 April 2023
Shell’s David Bunch joins Active Travel England as a non-executive director
Shell’s David Bunch joins Active Travel England as a non-executive director
Phil Jones helped draft the recent changes to the Highway Code
Phil Jones helped draft the recent changes to the Highway Code


Chairman of Shell UK David Bunch has become a non-executive director of Active Travel England's board. 

David Bunch has more than 20 years' operational experience in building, running and leading a variety of mobility-related businesses across Europe, North America and South Africa combined with extensive board-level experience.

He was appointed Chairman of Shell UK Ltd in August 2021, and now has corporate responsibilities across the UK, where “he is tasked with driving the net zero agenda and supporting an orderly energy transition”, said ATE.

An ATE spokesperson said: “Our non-executive directors, like all government appointments, were recruited as a result of a fair and open process. David Bunch has significant board level experience and has a wide perspective on projects across future transport integration and decarbonisation.”

ATE has also announced the appointment of other non-executive directors including engineer, transport planner and active travel expert Phil Jones. He is chairman of the consultancy PJA and has played a key role in the roll-out of 20mph as to the default speed limit on most urban roads in Wales.

He also helped draft the recent changes to the Highway Code, including the new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ and the clearer rules on junction priorities.

Phil Jones said: “ATE has the huge responsibility of delivering on the Government’s commitments to raise substantially the levels of walking and cycling across England, helping to make our nation a healthier, safer and more sustainable place.

“Its mission aligns very closely with that of our company – to ‘create better places through great design’. I look forward to working with ATE to help to achieve its aims.”

The other non-executive board members are Isabelle Clement, director of Wheels for Wellbeing, the charity that helps disabled people to enjoy the benefits of cycling, and Karen Agbabiak, interim chief highways officer at Liverpool City Council.

Emily Kerr, a Green Party councillor at Oxford City Council, described Bunch’s appointment as “problematic”. 

She remarked on Twitter that Bunch’s appointment is “putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. His Shell title is ‘orderly energy transition’ - a euphemism for ‘continuing to burn fossil fuels’. Terrible choice.”

But national active travel commissioner Chris Boardman insists it was right to make David Bunch a non-executive director of ATE's board.

“If we want to give an entire country access to active travel as part of a genuinely sustainable transport system, we need to think bigger than we ever have before which is why Active Travel England’s board is purposefully made up of more than just experts in this one area,” said Boardman. 

“I want our work to be guided by people who have delivered national scale infrastructure, are comfortable speaking to power and are used to working on a massive scale. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact I'm all about the outcome and I’m delighted to have David on my team to help us deliver a step change in active travel.

“This is the same approach I took when leading the R&D programme for the Olympic Cycling Team. The Secret Squirrel Club was made up of people who were experts in their field but knew nothing of cycling. Without fail they were the catalyst for the game-changing tech and we all now know the impact they had on making us the most successful Olympic Team of all time.”

The appointment came after environmental law charity ClientEarth announced it was taking Shell plc’s board of directors to High Court for failing to manage “the material and foreseeable risks posed to the company by climate change”.

ClientEarth, which is bringing the lawsuit in its capacity as a shareholder, alleges Shell’s board is breaching company law by mismanaging climate risk.

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