The government of Belgium has formally written to the UK government questioning the fairness of a decision to make a Chinese company preferred bidder in the contract to build the world’s first power-generating tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay, Wales.
Belgium acted on behalf of the Belgian civil engineering company Jan de Nul Group, which also bid for the $460m (£300m) contract to build the lagoon’s six-mile enclosing wall (pictured).
Earlier this month the scheme’s developer, Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc (TLSB), named state-owned China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) as preferred bidder.
But Jan de Nul Group queried a potential conflict of interest because CHEC last year signed a global cooperation deal with British engineering and design giant Atkins, who is designated engineer on the Swansea scheme.
BBC News reports that Atkins has said it did not collaborate with CHEC on this project, and that developer TLSB maintained the tender was "robust".
The Belgian company claimed Atkins would have been instrumental in scoring bids, but Atkins said its role was to "prepare the detailed design specification for the construction work to be put out to tender… assessing each submission against the initial design specification."
It said it was TLSB’s decision to choose supplier, and that it had not collaborated with CHEC on the work to date. TLSB said details of each tender were confidential.
The Belgian government has formally written to the UK government asking whether the procedure was fair to all the companies bidding, but the UK Government has yet to respond.
Image: Diagram of the 6-mile enclosing wall of the proposed tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay, Wales (Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc)