CAMPAIGNERS fighting to return an historic Sunderland-built ship to the Wear are to unveil a new business plan.
Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation (Scarf) has fought for years to bring the clipper home from its resting place at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine.
A rival team from Adelaide, in Australia, has been given preferred bidder status for the ship by the Scottish government.
But Scarf spokesman Peter Maddison said the group was to reveal new proposals which it believed would trump the Australian plan.
“The proposals submitted to the Scottish government more than two years ago had been drawn up at short notice and were incomplete,” said Mr Maddison.
“The ones we are preparing to submit have had a great deal of involvement from business people, not just in Sunderland and the region, but internationally.”
The group believed it would be able to bring the clipper back to Wearside within the £750,000 aid budget available from the Scottish government.
“We are convinced we are able to present a plan which allows us to recover the clipper for Sunderland within the £750,000 budget,” said Mr Maddison.
“The Australians have a £2million shortfall on their recovery plan, not only because of the vast distance they have to travel but because they have got to spend at least a £250,000 to rid the ship of any worms and insect life present.
“We don’t have that bill – whatever creepy-crawlies are on that ship are already present in Sunderland.”
Scarf members have been back to Irvine this week to highlight the fact that their campaign continues.
“We went up there with a 40-tonne truck and parked it within 50 feet of the clipper,” said Mr Maddison.
“We were making a statement to the Scottish Maritime Museum, to the Australians and, frankly, to the people of Sunderland who have been a little bit confused as to whether we are still fighting, to say we are alive and kicking and we are getting stronger.
“We still have that great ambition to recover the clipper for Sunderland.”