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Go-ahead given for new Highland prison as costs mushroom to £92 million; MSP slams 'dithering' Scottish Government over long-standing issue


By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Edward Mountain at the site planned for the new prison.
MSP Edward Mountain at the site planned for the new prison.

The Scottish Government has finally given the go-ahead to invite tenders for the construction of a new HMP Highland to replace the now outdated Inverness prison.

But it has emerged that the cost of the new facility – originally budgeted at around £66 million – has shot up to more than £92 million.

If the funding is agreed and made available by the government – and work starts next year – then the prison could be operational by 2024.

This is four years later than originally forecast.

The move to the “invitation-to-tender stage” was confirmed by justice secretary Humza Yousaf in parliament last week.

It came after a reported exchange between him and Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing who expressed concerns at the slow pace of the Highland project and the political damage it could do.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain has been campaigning for work to start on the prison for years.

“Right now the only thing going up at the new prison is the price," he said this week.

“Last year a new prison would have cost £80.5m, but now this has risen to £92m. This is the huge cost of the SNP government’s delays. This is a shovel-ready project and will create jobs in the Highlands.

“All it needs is funding and it’s now time, after much dithering from the cabinet secretary for justice, to make that commitment.

“The current prison is not fit for purpose and it needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.”

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