COMPANIES linked to the arms industry that together have made over £730m in profits in a year have benefitted from more than £8m in support grants from the Scottish Government's economic development agency.

Among the beneficiaries is Scots explosives firm Chemring Energetics UK Ltd that told the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise that munitions were a "key growth area".

Ministers, who have said they do not fund weapons manufacture, have come under fire over the grants to eight firms, which together made £738m in profits in their last full financial year.

Chemring, which made a £4.4m profit in its last full financial year and received over £1.2m in funding over in 2022/23 for a research and development project.

Scottish Enterprise has shelled out the money in grants in the last two financial years saying that they employ tens of thousands of people across Scotland and that their aim is to "help them to make their activities more economically sustainable and diversify their activities".

But the payments have come under fire from peace campaigners for using limited public funds to "line the pockets" of profitable private arms firms.

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It has emerged that Scottish Enterprise, which says it "does not support the manufacture of munitions" gave out some £6.35m to multinational defence firms in 2021/22 while a further £2.02m was given out in 2022/23.

The previous First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had repeatedly claimed that the Scottish Government does not fund the manufacture of munitions.

The Scottish Peace Network said that ministers should not be subsidising profitable arms firms.

Ayrshire-based Chemring, a major supplier to the military which says its principal activity is the "design and manufacture and sale of propellants and explosive devices" received its money as a research and development grant for an unidentified project, having previously received sought support for expansion.

Scottish Enterprise documents say that it was a "contribution towards overall project costs, focussed on process innovation and using state-of-the-art technology and automation to design, test and optimise advanced manufacturing processes at its site".

It went on: "This project will create new jobs while safeguarding existing jobs".

A 2009 bid for Scottish Government assistance through Scottish Enterprise by Chemring to help the firm with a £19m expansion at its Ardeer site said it would allow it to "take advantage of market moves that have resulted in a gap in the manufacture of explosives in the UK". Its bid document stated that "key growth will be in munitions..."

Chemring promo video.

It went on: "With the remoteness of the site and the existing explosive licences and consents, the Ardeer site is well placed to attract new business in the field of energetic materials and products."

The bid stated that the firm's principal activities were "manufacture of pyrotechnics, battlefield simulation products, flares, cartridge/propellant actuated devices, explosive ordnance disposal equipment, propellants, munitions and expendable countermeasures".

Six years ago, Chemring sought funding for a graduate placement programme, saying to Scottish Enterprise that it wanted to employ people to focus on “product and process improvement of an existing product to support strategic growth of a range of pyromechanical products”.

Product applications which were to benefit included "automotive, aerospace and defence (missile batteries, safety and arming devices, acutators etc.).

It said in its application that the product range under consideration is a "key growth area".

War On Want said in 2016 that Chemring made significant profits after being awarded a contract in 2015 worth over £100m to supply 40mm grenades to an unnamed country in the Middle East.

At the time Chemring, which employs 300 staff at Stevenston, dismissed any wrong doing and said the Middle East was an important market for the company.

The total amount paid out to Chemring in grants between 2007 and 2018 was £196,355.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) called for an end to what it called "the pipeline of public funding to arms companies".

Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International UK’s Scotland programme director, said it was "incumbent on the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to conduct a level of due diligence and assure the public and Parliament that they are upholding their legal obligations on the trade in weapons".

Weapons manufacturer Raytheon, which made after-tax profits of £17.030m in 2021 and employs 700 people in Glenrothes and Livingston, was awarded £600,000.

A group of of Yemeni nationals have filed a lawsuit in the UK against Raytheon and two other defence contractors, Lockheed and General Dynamics accusing them of "aiding and abetting war crimes and extrajudicial killings" by supplying arms to the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen.

It is claimed by Doctors Without Borders that in January, last year, a precision-guided missile made by the firm and fired by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, hit a detention centre in Sa’adah, killing 80.

Thales UK Ltd, which made a £47.027m profit in 2021, was handed £1.111m.

The Herald: Chemring

Boeing was given £2.1m, Rosyth Royal Dockyard received over £1.9m, Spirit AeroSystems had £561,153, BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd got £19,507 and Leonardo UK Ltd was given £627,000.

Sean Clerkin of the Scottish Peace Network, who procured the latest data on Scottish Enterprise's spending said: "It is appalling that the Scottish Government through its agency Scottish Enterprise are still subsidising highly profitable arms companies based in Scotland.

"We call on the SNP-Green Scottish Government to stop using Scottish taxpayers money to subsidise arms companies and instead use the money to alleviate homelessness in our nation."

Emma Cockburn, Scotland co-ordinator for the CAAT said: "The Scottish government and its funding bodies, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, claim to champion peace and human rights but their track record of funding multi-billion pound private arms companies who profit from conflict and repression tells a different story.

Despite budgets being slashed across crucial public services in Scotland... the Scottish government always maintain the flow of public funding to line the pockets of arms company shareholders with very little accountability for how the vast sums from the public purse will be used.

"Scottish Enterprise cannot be oblivious to the deadly consequences of the research and development it is funding.

"We must demand an end to the pipeline of public funding to arms companies".

Chemring said: "The £1.2m was an R&D grant to modernise, automate and adopt new technology used in the manufacture of propellants."

According to Chemring documentation, the site at Ardeer has been producing propellant for over 100 years and is "world renowned for its expertise in this industry".

"Our range of propellants are widely used in missile power systems, fuel igniters, gyroscopic actuator devices, rocket motors, ejection release units, buoyancy and inflation devices," it says.

A Scottish Government spokesman: "The Scottish Government does not provide funding for the manufacture of munitions – either directly or via Scottish Enterprise. Defence industries are a valuable contributor to Scotland’s economy and any support provided is mainly focused on helping firms to diversify and develop non-military applications for their technology and ensure Scotland continues to benefit from the thousands of jobs in the defence, aerospace and shipbuilding sectors.

“Human rights due diligence checks have now been fully rolled out and are a normal part of the Scottish Enterprise application process.”

Scottish Enterprise said the R&D project "looks at using state-of-the-art technology and automation to design, test and optimise advanced manufacturing processes for the safety products manufactured at its site".

A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “Scottish Enterprise’s funding does not support the development or manufacture of munitions and Chemring’s Ardeer, Ayrshire site produces products using propellants for safety systems that save lives, including ejector seats.

"The defence companies we work with employ tens of thousands of people across Scotland, and our aim is to help make their Scottish operations as economically sustainable as possible and targets continued diversification of their product lines into commercial markets with a view to sustaining and growing employment. Decisions to assist companies are based on the economic potential of proposed projects, all of which are delivered in line with the economic and social impacts legally agreed.”