Highways England could be fined in excess of £25M if it seriously contravenes its governing principles, the roads watchdog has warned.
The Office of Rail and Road said the government-owned company, formed earlier this year, could be subject to major financial penalties.
It set out a five-step process for fining Highways England for any misdemeanours, in a consultation paper released last week.
The five steps the regulator plans to take before fining Highways England:
Step 1 – deciding whether to take statutory enforcement action
Step 2 – notifying Highways England of an intention to take action and giving the body a chance to defend its actions or indicate measures being taken to rectify the problem
Step 3 – issuing a notice to Highways England
Step 4 – monitoring compliance with the notice
Step 5 – issuing a fine
The consultation paper said: “We will generally impose fines at a level which will have a reputational as opposed to a punitive impact on Highways England. For most contraventions where we decide to issue a fine we would not normally expect to issue a fine which exceeds £2.5M.
“However, where we issue a fine for a very serious contravention, it is likely to be at a level which has a more significant financial impact on Highways England. Consequently for such contraventions where we decide to issue a fine they are likely to be of an amount up to £25M (although they could be higher) to reflect the seriousness of the contravention.”
Highways England is required to comply with the Road Investment Strategy and the licence issued to it by the transport secretary.
The consultation will run until 25 September