Outrage over French plan to build wind farm on site where tens of thousands of young British soldiers died in WWI battle of Loos
A French firm plans to build a wind farm on the site of a First World War battlefield where tens of thousands of young British soldiers died.
InnoVent wants to put up 10 turbines, each twice the height of Big Ben, on the site of the 1915 Battle of Loos, in France.
The Leicester Regiment was heavily involved in the battle, losing more than 500 men in just a week.
Regimental historian Richard Lane said the scheme would ruin the setting of a number of war cemeteries in the area.
‘I believe the people behind the scheme may have been acting out of ignorance.
‘They were probably unaware that the land is honeycombed with tunnels and there are likely to be the remains of those who died that could be disturbed by the wind farm.’
The plan was originally put forward last year but has now been put on hold until following a public meeting last week.
The final decision lies with the Prefect of the department of Nord Pas de Calais.
Mr Lane said: ‘We understand the project has been put on hold. We welcome that, but we will be keeping a close eye on what will happen next.’
Bob Allan, chairman of the regiment’s Royal Tigers Association, said: ‘We would oppose anything that would impinge on the tranquility and setting of the cemeteries in the area of the battlefield.’
French conservationist Bruno Schmit said in a blog that InnoVent had ‘taken no account of the historical past of the site’.
He said the turbines, if approved, would be sited close to important battlefield landmarks.
He said: ‘For the moment, the project is paused. We want the prefect to declare this zone unbuildable. That is our goal.’
InnoVent spokesman Clement Prouvost said the firm was aware of the sensitive nature of the locality and was looking at the suitability of sites.
He said: ‘We don’t know where exactly the turbines will be built and the numbers of turbines.
‘We are studying different scenarios according to the distance from cemeteries.
‘We have decided to keep a distance of 500 meters minimum between turbines and cemeteries.’
He said the company would pay for archeological excavations around the site in advance of any development, to comply with French law.
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