Milton of Leys prison plan put on hold as alternative site is considered
In a statement, it said the planning consultation process would be “pausing” for four to six months to allow it to look at an alternative location.
A spokeswoman refused to reveal where the new site is, although it is thought to be near Inverness Shopping Park, which is also owned by Hazledene (Inverness) Limited, owners of the current proposed site at Milton of Leys.
But the statement was clear that if the alternative, which SPS said was not previously available to them, is deemed unsuitable it will restart work on Milton of Leys.
It said: “SPS is 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 HMP Highland.
“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.
“However, the full assessment of this site is not yet commenced and should this option not subsequently prove viable, SPS has a commitment to progress the planning application on the Milton of Leys site.”
Steve Gordon of campaign group Highlands Against the Proposed Prison Location (HAPPL) said: “If this new site doesn’t work out there is still a real risk of having a prison at Milton of Leys so we have to tread carefully, but I am delighted.”
Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing said: “I am pleased that SPS has agreed to my request and it is now for Highland Council to consider the new site. I am sure it will do so sympathetically.”