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Battle lines drawn over development proposal for historic Highland site; Military historian enters fray over Culloden proposals

By Staff Reporter

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Opposition is continuing to plans to build a new leisure destination at Culloden Moor.

Dr Christopher Duffy – a prolific writer and former secretary-general of the British Commission for Military History – has entered the fray after it emerged plans to convert the former Treetops Stables at Faebuie, Culloden Moor, into a leisure destination look set to be recommended for approval by Highland councillors next month.

Campaigners against the venture, comprising 13 new holiday lodges, a café/shop and restaurant, say it forms part of the battlefield where the Jacobite rebellion, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, was crushed in 1746.

But Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which has been consulted as a statutory consultee, is not objecting to the scheme put forward by Inverness Paving.

It stated there is already some existing development and the proposals would not alter the characteristics of the battlefield, or have a significant impact on the landscape or the underlying archaeology.

Dr Duffy – who taught military history at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the college of the British General Staff and was also a research professor at the De Montfort University in Leicester – disagreed. He said the Scottish Government should call in the application to determine it.

“Historic Environment Scotland is not qualified to pass judgement on battlefields,” he said. “It did not consult military historians.

“Military history is a very demanding form of history.

“Culloden was a small battle but it reverberated across the oceans and across the centuries.”

He said the site of the planned development was a part of the battlefield and where the Duke of Cumberland lined up the mounted horse regiments as they went into battle against the Jacobites.

“This development is not the conversion of an equestrian centre,” he said.

“It is a major footprint on the ground.

“It is certain to lead to increasing suburbanisation of the battlefield.”

Dr Duffy said there had been encroaching development in the area in recent years whereas in Europe and America, battlefield sites were given much more protection.

“We are very close to losing a good third of the battlefield,” he said.

Scottish ministers have directed they should be notified if the council “is minded” to grant permission and although it does not commit them to calling in the application, it does reserve their right to intervene.

The application is expected to be discussed to Highland Council’s south planning applications committee on November 3.

Previous plans were rejected last year because of its impact on the surrounding woodland and natural environment.

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