Saughton prison to install solar panels

HMP Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
HMP Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Saughton Prison has unveiled plans to install hundreds of solar panels on its roof in a bid to slash electricity bills over the next 25 years.

If proposals are given the green light, around 300 photovoltaic (PV) panels would be mounted on top of the prison’s games hall, generating huge savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 tonnes annually.

The solar energy plan comes after Perth and Kinross Council last month approved a scheme which will see panels installed at HMP Perth at a cost of just over £41,000.

Similar projects are being carried out at HMP Low Moss and the Polmont young offenders facility.

Political leaders here have welcomed plans to make HMP Edinburgh more eco-friendly and said prisoners could even be taught how to install the green energy devices.

Councillor Chas Booth, environment spokesman for the city’s Greens, said the prison had set a positive example for others to follow.

He said: “The twin pressures of climate change and pressure on the public purse means we need to ensure all our public buildings are cutting their energy costs and carbon emissions.

“This initiative from the prison service is welcome, and other public bodies should be looking to follow their lead. If it’s also possible to train offenders in the skills needed to install solar panels, then perhaps the chances of them reoffending could also be reduced.”

Saughton is a large prison which receives most offenders from courts in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders, as well as the Fife area.

On average, it can hold 900 individuals every day.

The prison manages adult male and female offenders serving short, long-term, extended and life sentences.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) claimed the key benefits behind their solar panel plan will be the generation of clean, carbon-free electricity at Saughton.

A prison spokeswoman said: “The SPS is committed to incorporating renewable energy across our establishments. The PV Panels installed at HMP Edinburgh will be carbon-free in operation. These will contribute to the Scottish Government targets and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 tonnes annually.”

Saughton prison has been completely rebuilt in recent years and was among the first in Scotland to complete a refurbishment programme.