Prisons are to go green by generating their energy from solar panels and creating mini-nature reserves to promote biodiversity.
The next generation of prisons - starting with four to be built over the next six years - will use heat pumps, energy efficient lighting and thousands of solar panels to cut fuel bills by half and carbon emissions by at least 85 per cent compared with current designs.
They will also have habitats for wildlife cultivated at each prison to promote biodiversity and ensure the local ecology is stronger than when before construction began.
The move is part of the Government’s drive to make Britain net-zero for carbon emissions by 2050. Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, said: “Our ambitious approach offers a unique opportunity to build back a safer and greener prison system.
“New jails will use new green technologies and modern methods of construction to ensure our prisons cut carbon emissions as well as reoffending.”
Two “first generation” green prisons are already under construction using recycled materials and incorporating green energy sources: HMP Five Wells in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and Glen Parva in Leicestershire.
The four “second generation” to be constructed over the next six years will use an all-electric design that eliminates the need for gas boilers, meaning they will produce net-zero emissions when the National Grid decarbonises.
During construction, 40,000 tonnes of carbon will be prevented by using recycled concrete and steel. The four are a new jail will be built next to HMP Full Sutton, in East Yorkshire, three at yet-to-be-confirmed sites in the south east and north west of England.
Some £15 million is also being invested in existing prisons, many built in the Victorian era. Solar panels are being installed at 16 sites to meet 20 per cent of their power demand - bringing the total number of solar panels across the estate to over 20,000.
More than 200 electric vehicle charging points are also being installed across 40 prisons. The developments are part of the Government’s £4 billion programme to create 18,000 additional prison places that boost rehabilitation and cut reoffending.
The environmentally friendly drive comes on top of more than £12 billion green investment to help the Government reach its net zero carbon emission target by 2050.
This will include hydrogen and carbon capture technology, greener homes, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, flood defences and backing offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030.
The UK was the first major economy to legislate to have a net zero target. It is also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2030 - the highest reduction target by a major economy to date.