Inverness community council gathers opposition to prison
A community council has begun gathering support for its effort to oppose plans to build a new prison at Milton of Leys in Inverness.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said it intends to submit a planning application this summer.
HMP Highland would replace 112-year-old Inverness Prison. The jail is one of the smallest and oldest in Scotland.
Inverness South Community Council have opposed constructing the prison on farmland on the edge of the suburb.
A public meeting held by the community council on Monday night was attended by more than 300 people.
Vice-chairman Richard Crawford said the turnout represented 10% of the population of Milton of Leys.
He said of the planned prison: "It is a proposal at the moment and we would like to prevent it getting to the planning application stage."
Mr Crawford said the community council had until the middle of June, when the SPS expects to submit an application to Highland Council, to gather as much opposition to it as possible.
The prison service has proposed having a family help hub and community integration facility for prisoners constructed as part of the new "fit-for-purpose" prison.
Milton of Leys is a large southern suburb of Inverness. The area and proposed site has close access to the A9.
SPS announced about seven years ago that it planned to build a new prison in Inverness.
In 2010, SPS was told it could not build a new prison on land at the Inverness Campus.
The SPS had been in discussion with landowner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) about constructing the jail at the Beechwood site.
HIE said the plan was given serious consideration but it did not have "a strong strategic fit" with its vision.
The 103-prisoner-capacity Victorian-era Inverness Prison, also known as Porterfield, has had problems with overcrowding and the SPS said there was no room to expand the site.