Controversial plans to build a £1 million holiday village on historic Culloden Moor have been turned down by the Scottish government despite one of its own officials advising it should go ahead.

Inverness Paving Ltd wanted to convert an equestrian centre on the site into a leisure facility with 13 lodges, a car park and 100-seater restaurant.

However it was rejected twice by Highland Council and an appeal has now been turned down by government ministers.

A reporter appointed to assess the case had recommended giving the scheme approval subject to conditions.

He said that while the predicted economic benefits "appeared rather ambitious" there was a strong business opportunity behind the proposed development.

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However the government overruled his decision saying the development would adversely affect the landscape and cultural heritage.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) had not objected to the development arguing that it would not have a significant effect given its position in relation to the core battlefield.

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A spokeswoman for Inverness Paving declined to comment on the decision today, when contacted by The Herald.

The final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head on Culloden Moor on April 16 1746, in one of the most harrowing battles in British history.

Jacobite supporters, seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones, gathered to fight the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops.

It was the last pitched battle on British soil and, in less than an hour, around 1,600 men were slain – 1,500 of them Jacobites.

More than 300 objections to the holiday village project had been registered.

One said: “To continue to approve and allow development in and around the Culloden battlefield conservation area is a national outrage and embarrassment.

“This is a world famous site, not only as a battlefield but as a war grave.”

An appeal document for Inverness Paving Ltd said the project could boost the local economy annually and create jobs.

It said: “The proposal is to create a high-quality tourism leisure facility, forest lodges and hospitality, in one of Scotland’s premier visitor destinations. Inverness is undersubscribed in high quality self-catering.

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“The proposal would address an acknowledged market opportunity and =cntribute £1.47m and 62 jobs per annum to the regional economy.”

A letter rejecting the appeal said: “Ministers do not agree with the reporter’s view and conclusions that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on Culloden Inventory Battlefield or on the character or appearance of the Culloden Muir Conservation Area.

“Ministers consider that the loss of protected woodland, together with the impacts on the historic environment assets of Culloden Inventory Battlefield and the Culloden Muir Conservation Area mean the proposed development is contrary to the development plan overall.

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"The landscape of the whole battlefield makes a major contribution to the ability to inform about the battle events and related terrain and thus it contributes directly to the cultural significance of Culloden."

Clea Warner, the National Trust for Scotland’s general manager for the Highlands & Islands said: “We welcome this decision by Scottish ministers and hope that it sets a precedent that helps to counter the continuing attempts to place inappropriate development on the wider historic battlefield.

“Ultimately, however, we think the only solution to securing the historic integrity of Culloden is for all relevant agencies to come together and agree upon a masterplan for its future.

“Consultation through our Culloden 300 initiative showed that this is exactly what the majority of people want to see happen.

“We are working hard on encouraging others to join us in making sure the right balance is found in meeting the needs of communities today without the damaging this landscape, which is such an important part of Scotland’s heritage.”