CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a mosque in an upmarket suburb of Glasgow have been turned down after more than a year of protest.

An application to build an Islamic community centre and mosque on greenbelt land in Newton Mearns received 1088 letters of objection.

But a ruling by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency prompted the rejection after it was discovered the land is a flood plain and would put any new building at risk.

The council-owned land lies near the Capelrig burn which could burst its banks, causing flooding.

Members of the area's Muslim community had hoped to build a centre complete with two prayer halls and a domed roof on the 1.7-acre site.

East Renfrewshire currently has no mosque and members of the local Muslim community, which has swelled to more than 3000 over the last 10 years, have to travel to Glasgow's Central Mosque.

Last June, hundreds of people turned out to a community council meeting which would normally only attract about 20 residents.

Of the 500 present, only 100 were in support of the plan. Save Crookfur Greenspace was one of the major objectors to the development.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: "We are still concerned the refusal reasons could leave the site open to future applications. We took heart in the decision and hope it will remain a green space in the future."

Attempts in 2001 to obtain planning permission for a mosque in the area also failed.

At the time, an anonymous letter opposing the mosque development was sent to homes in Newton Mearns warning of the "devaluation" of property should it go ahead.

But a spokesman for East Renfrewshire denied the objections were motivated by racism.

He said: "Not a single objection was on religious grounds. They were all genuine planning reservations. Following the report from SEPA we could not go ahead with building there."

Plans for a new site are currently on hold but the council insists it will do what it can to find an alterative location for a new mosque.

Sajit Quayum, of the Islamic Society of Britain, said: "It is a disappointing result for us and came as a last-minute surprise."