AN organisation that opposes the arms trade is calling for £200 million of government investment to make the west of Scotland a global leader in marine power and to fund this new policy by fewer sales of weaponry.

A new report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) argues that boosting green industries in the Clyde could be funded by stricter controls on arms exports and could create more than 5,000 jobs.

CAAT’s study, which claims to be a blueprint for a greener Scotland – seen by The National and published today by investigative website The Ferret – is called Arms Industry in The Clyde and Renewable Energy Options.

It says that £200m of joint funding by the Scottish and UK Governments would equate to roughly half the cost of just one of the Type 26 Frigates built on the Clyde.

CAAT argues that 5,300 jobs could be created by 2020 which could offset any job losses that would come from fewer arms exports to regimes with poor human rights records.

The report says that the west coast of Scotland is the best site for wave technology in the UK and there are also tidal range options in the region.

According to CAAT, many companies producing arms in the Clyde already make, or have the potential to make, vital parts for developing the wave power industry.

Examples cited include James Fisher Defence – a firm working with submarines – that has worked with Ocean Flow Energy on building a tidal power prototype at its test facility on the Clyde. A spokesman for CAAT said: “We are always hearing that Trident and arms exports are essential for jobs, but that is simply not the case.

“By investing in renewable energy rather than arms, the government could create more and better jobs as well as helping to build a greener and safer world. We are calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to act urgently to get wave technology moving forward through the £200 million investment needed, and to target this at the Clyde region. As well as providing the UK with renewable energy, the UK, and the Clyde in particular, could become the world leader in wave power.”

CAAT believes there is huge potential for the policy as The Carbon Trust estimate the UK could capture 22 per cent of the marine power market between 2010 and 2050, which could be worth a cumulative £76 billion.

With regards to Type 16 Frigates being built on the Clyde, CAAT says that each vessel was expected to cost some £250 to £350 million but recent reports suggest a sum twice that amount.

The report says the initial investment required in wave power could be funded by reducing the number of frigates from eight to seven and concentrating the investment in the Clyde region.

CAAT said this would create far more potential for jobs and exports than the building of another frigate, adding: “Furthermore, because interest on UK Government debt is at record lows, if £200 million of investment in wave was funded through borrowing, it would actually cost the government less than £5 million a year.”

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow welcomed CAAT’s study and said: “There is huge opportunity for a new industrial revolution on the Clyde if we invest now. Transitioning from the arms trade to renewables will not only allow for the retention and creation of high quality jobs in the area but allow us to tackle what is the greatest security threat to the UK and the world, that of climate change. The Campaign Against the Arms Trade should be commended for delivering proposals which ensure a just transition, focused on preservation and growth of employment in the area and on building an industry which is key to a genuinely safer world.”

Stephen Salter, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design at the University of Edinburgh, said: “I could not see any mistakes (in CAAT’s report) and would strongly support its objectives. However the political influence of the arms industry, especially the nuclear bit, is very strong. An argument that I find particularly objectionable is that work which might kill many hundreds of millions of people is quite OK if it gives us jobs.”

Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland finance campaigner said: “Scotland has abundant natural potential for wave energy and we should be putting our national resources into becoming trailblazers in this field. The wave and tidal industry has suffered from some difficult setbacks in recent years so a huge boost such as this would help them get back on track. The impacts of climate change fuel conflict around the world so we would be better directing our resources towards renewable energy solutions. Instead of arming sides in human conflicts, we should be arming ourselves in the fight against global warming. Harnessing the skills of workers in this industry to decarbonise our energy system will boost the local economy and help to tackle the biggest challenge of our time, climate change. Scottish local governments pensions funds also have £1.7 billion invested in fossil fuels.

“Pension fund members should call on the councils to invest in safe, responsible investments that don’t threaten our future. By divesting and moving this money into renewables we can help ensure a just transition for Scotland’s workforce.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government recognises the potential of marine power to contribute to our sustainable energy future and we are committed to supporting the industry overcome the hurdles to successful deployment. Defence is an area reserved to the UK Government.”

CAAT's report can be read here -