Balfour signs contract for Scottish prison

Balfour Beatty has signed a £119m deal to build a flagship net-zero Scottish prison – with the total scheme cost now four times the original estimated price.

The tier one contractor was appointed to a preconstruction contract for the 18,500 square metres HMP Highland in Inverness in 2022.

Balfour Beatty today announced that it has now been appointed to complete the project, which consists of two buildings and infrastructure.

Last week, the Scottish Government confirmed that the total price of the scheme will now be £209m.

Scottish justice secretary Angela Constance said: “As with all large-scale national construction projects, Brexit, high inflation and supply-chain issues have had an impact on the initial estimated costs, which we have been working hard with the prison service and suppliers to keep to a minimum.”

In 2011, former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill told the Scottish Parliament that the scheme would cost £52m.

In 2022, when Balfour Beatty was appointed to the preconstruction and stage one design and build of HMP Highland, the cost was estimated to be £110m, up from a 2017 estimate of £66m.

By the end of that year, the cost had risen again, to £140m.

The prison is scheduled to complete in 2026, and will be powered by renewable energy sources including ground source heat pumps.

Balfour Beatty will use modular construction techniques, with panels and walls manufactured offsite.

Hector MacAulay MBE, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s regional business in Scotland, said: “We will draw on our extensive expertise in modern methods of construction, and our unrivalled local knowledge, to deliver this groundbreaking, best-in-class facility, which will become the first net-zero prison in Scotland.”

The facility will replace Inverness Prison and will accommodate 200 prisoners when it opens.

Balfour Beatty said that the scheme would, at its peak, employ 250 people, with 5 per cent of the workforce made up of apprentices, graduates and trainees.

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