NICOLA Sturgeon’s announcement of a £700 million windfall from the auction of Scottish sea beds for offshore wind farms has been hailed as a major sea-change in how we generate electricity in Scotland. However, speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, host Donald Martin, editor of The Herald and Herald on Sunday, asked: “Is this good news for jobs and net zero investment or will it be a lot of hot air like the SNP’s previously promised wind turbine jobs bonanza?”

Sir Tom Hunter responded: “Shock horror! I can exclusively announce on this show: ‘Well done the Scottish Government! This is a bold and enterprising initiative. I really salute them for doing it. It’s much bigger than what we were told it was going to be.

“It’s bang on. The fact there will be £700 million coming into the coffers of the Scottish Government has to be good news.” There was a major caveat.

“Can Scottish businesses get into this supply chain and make the most of it because they’re competing in a global field? Surely, using the Scottish engineering genius, this is where Scottish business can excel?

“There’s not too much the Government can do apart from make sure there’s a level playing field. This is now down to Scottish businesses to grab this with both hands.”

Mr Martin pointed out Brexit meant the removal of European rules. Could this be seen as an advantage?

“Definitely!” agreed Lord Willie. “It’s great to get the £700 million capital receipt. It will be welcomed by the Government. But I do think we could have gone further. We could have made it a prerequisite – because we’re not part of the OJEU procurement system, as we’re not in Europe anymore – that a big part of the tendering is who will manufacture in Scotland.

“Maybe it should not all have been about the price? It might have been that we take £650 million but we’ll get everything made locally. I know this has not worked in the past but, with Scotland’s engineering, these are areas where we should have stepped up to the plate.

“I would be really disappointed if Scotland doesn’t get the benefit of at least 70% of the spend and the procurement of building the turbines that we need for it.”

Sir Tom noted: “This is where we can’t moan about the Government. Scottish business has to step up. To the entrepreneurs who see the opportunity and the businesses out there: use our engineering talent to grab this. Surely this is Klondike?”

Both Sir Tom and Lord Willie were less effusive in their praise for the Scottish Government when asked whether the First Minister’s further easing of Covid restrictions would go far enough to help businesses?

Lord Willie said: “It’s obviously good news but I’d like to have seen it going further. I’d like to hope by the end of January they’d actually not be talking about any restrictions at all.

“I think people should be sensible and continue to wear masks but that’s the most we should ask people to do. We have to get back to normal.

“I was walking through the town last week and I couldn’t believe it: I mean, there was no one there, the place was deserted. Let’s get people back into their offices and people back into the shops.”

Sir Tom said he believed an important point to consider is the fact Scotland deviated from England on measures.

“I’d like to see some evidence about who was right because the people who paid the price were the businesses, mainly hospitality,” he said. “Who was right? The answer will inform us because this won’t be the last pandemic.

“I think we need to learn to live with it. The way you learn to live with it is you learn from what happened. We can’t just say: ‘Right, that’s it, let’s go back to the way it was.’

“There has been great misery out of this but also some positive things: the way we work, who’s important, why they’re important, what’s important to you as an individual, the work-life balance . . . people have had time to think about all of this.

“So businesses have to adapt and that’s what good entrepreneurs and businesses do. They adapt to the changes just before they’re happening, if they’re going to be really clever.

“So I’m so pleased our First Minister is now talking about living with the virus and not trying to dictate every part of our lives . . . that drove me crazy!”