More than 300 people attended a public meeting last night to voice their opposition to plans for a new prison in Inverness.
Residents of Milton of Leys and beyond added their voice to growing doubts about the proposed prison location between the Inverness suburb and the A9.
During the meeting organisers Inverness South Community Council asked members of the audience for a show of hands in support of the plan. Nobody raised their hand.
Richard Crawford, vice-chairman of the group, led the meeting and said a number of questions about the proposals still needed to be answered.
He added: “It’s a crazy place to put a prison right on the edge of a new estate, a new village even.”
A campaign group, Highlands Against the Proposed Prison Location, has also been set up in opposition to the plans and were heavily represented at last night’s meeting.
Steve Gordon of the group said that he would “use every tool available to take this out of the public domain”.
Concerns raised by residents included the proximity of the proposed building to houses and Milton of Leys Primary School.
They also criticised the lack of consultation before the prison submitted a pre-planning notice naming the Milton of Leys.
Mr Gordon said: “It has been known about but we have been kept in the dark.”
The meeting was also attended by a number of Inverness councillors and candidates in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections.
SNP candidate Fergus Ewing said the proposal was “totally wrong” while Conservative candidate Edward Mountain said he “could not understand” the idea.
Lib Dem candidate Carolyn Caddick said she could not comment because of her planning commitments as a councillor but added she was “listening” to the points raised.
The Scottish Prison Service was not represented at last night’s meeting, although Mr Crawford revealed they had been invited.
The SPS announced they were considering building on the Milton of Leys site last month after spending several years trying to find a new site to relocate from HMP Inverness close to the city centre.
The aging facility, commonly known as Porterfield, has struggled with overcrowding, a lack of facilities and limited scope for redevelopment.
A spokesman for the prison service said that two public consultation events will be held in May and June.
Representatives will also attend the June meeting of Inverness South Community Council.