Exclusive: Both engineers expected to be employed after mega energy project receives boost from prime minister

Severn Estuary

The Severn Estuary

Engineers Halcrow and Arup are in line to be formerly appointed to work up plans for a £30bn barrage across the Severn estuary.

Building reported last month that Halcrow had withdrawn from the consortium developing the privately-financed scheme, which is now known as Hafren Power, following a review of all its projects by parent company CH2M Hill.

However, it is now understood that although neither Halcrow nor Arup will be equity investors in the scheme, Hafren Power is intending to employ both firms
as consultants.

Proposals for the 18km-long barrage, which would sit between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare and could generate 5% of the country’s energy needs, were boosted this week when it emerged that prime minister David Cameron has told ministers and civil servants to examine the plan.

This followed a meeting at the end of last month with MP Peter Hain, who left his post as shadow Welsh secretary to back the project.

Marks Barfield Architects, famous for developing the London Eye, is also part of the consortium, and its managing director Julia Barfield is expected to take a place on Hafren Power’s board, alongside other figures including energy lawyer Joseph Hannah.

The proposed chairman of the consortium is Gregory Shenkman, a former global partner at Rothschild Investment Banking Group.

The planned 20-year engineering project is believed to be the largest of its type in the world.

Hafren Power recently met with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds amid objections from environmental groups that the barrage would harm local wildlife.

Hain argues that such damage could be substantially mitigated and that the scheme would produce 20,000 jobs in construction and another 30,000 in related activities.