Concerned residents in a suburb of Inverness have welcomed the news that the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is now looking elsewhere for a site for a new Highland jail.
However it could yet return to their community.
The SPS is planning to replace the 112-year-old Inverness Prison (Porterfield), one of the smallest and oldest jails in Scotland. It had earmarked a site at Milton of Leys for the new site on the southern periphery of the Highland capital.
But those living nearby have campaigned against it saying it would be a blot on the landscape and too close to the local primary school.
But an SPS statement has now made clear, another site will be examined. It said it was “pausing the planning consultation process on the proposed prison site at Milton of Leys to ascertain if a viable alternative option is available” for the location of the new prison.
It continued “SPS will progress an assessment of an alternative option which has been brought forward by the Milton of Leys site owner and which had not previously been available as a potential prison site.”
But the SPS warned that should this option not be viable, it would have “a commitment to progress the planning application on the Milton of Leys site. “
It anticipated that the assessment of the potential alternative site could be concluded within the next four to six months.
Steve Gordon, of the Highlands Against the Proposed Prison Location campaign, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. Obviously, the campaign continues. We want the SPS to find an appropriate site and not to revert to Milton of Leys if the alternative site falls through.”
Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, is the local SNP MSP representing the Inverness and Nairn constituency. He welcomed the SPS statement.
He said he had argued that if other sites could be identified the current application for the Milton of Leys site should be paused. He said the SPS had responded to this request very constructively.