The cost of building a new prison in Inverness, Scotland, has risen further, reaching more than double the original estimate.
In February, when Balfour Beatty was appointed to the pre-construction and stage 1 design and build of HMP Highland, the cost was estimated to be £110m, up from a 2017 estimate of £66m.
However, the response to a freedom of information (FOI) request obtained by the Scottish Conservatives revealed that the cost has continued to climb over the course of the year and now stands at £140m.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) told Construction News that the project had experienced challenges due to a range of factors, but would provide enhanced security, greater digital capability, a new Community Connections hub with an improved visiting area, as well as modern cell space.
In a statement, it said: “While the project has faced delays due to a global pandemic, and design changes to meet the Scottish Government’s net-zero ambitions, and increased costs due to inflation pressures, we are determined to deliver on these ambitions.”
The prison, which will house 200 inmates and replace the Victorian-era HMP Inverness, was due to be operational by 2024.
However, the SPS said it could no longer confirm a date of operation. “Work is progressing well; we have not provided an operational date so as to ensure we allow sufficient time for commissioning and that our staff are fully familiar with the new facilities, and there is time for learning, training and development,” they said.
Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands, Sir Edward Mountain, who filed for the FOI on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The cost for the long-delayed prison is spiralling out of control and we are all paying a huge price for the SNP’s decade-long failure to deliver this project for the Highlands. Meanwhile, our hardworking prison staff continue to work in a Victorian prison that is no longer fit for purpose and which has repeatedly struggled with overcrowding.”
He added that he would push for the project to be fast-tracked during the Justice Portfolio Questions at Holyrood next week.
The scheme is part of a £500m investment by the Scottish Government into prisons, the other project being HMP Glasgow.
Balfour Beatty won the race against Kier, Morrison and Robertson for the early works contract on HMP Highland last year. Morgan Sindall subsidiary BakerHicks carried out the initial design.
Balfour today confirmed to CN that it is now the principal contractor on the scheme.