Consultant Mott MacDonald is in discussions with the army over taking on military engineering work in Iraq when British troops pull out.

Mott MacDonald, which is working on infrastructure projects, is understood to be in talks about carrying out work presently being undertaken by the Royal engineers. This follow speculation that the government plans to begin withdrawing the army in May.

A Mott MacDonald source said: "Troop withdrawals may provide us with more opportunity in Iraq, and we are already in discussions with military as to how we can help more as they reduce their numbers."

The Royal Engineers are mainly engaged with constructing and maintaining local infrastructure projects.

The size of the engineering force is expected to be scaled back this year as part of a reduction of British troops. The government has said it expects to cut the number of troops this year but has denied claims that it has a timetable.

The troop withdrawals may provide us with more opportunity in Iraq

Mott MacDonald source

The withdrawal, which the government says will be dictated by the security situation in Iraq, is designed to be part of a gradual handover of responsibility to the Iraqi government. This includes responsibility for reconstruction projects, as the Iraqis are given greater power to decide which projects should proceed, without having to rely on American advisers.

Mott MacDonald is working as a technical adviser at regional government council meetings in the south and hopes to extend this influence.