- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Anger at turbines on battle site

A French firm is planning to build a wind farm on the site of a First World War battlefield where 28 members of the 13th Scunthorpe and Brigg Platoon lost their lives.

The company, InnoVent, wants to put 10 turbines – each the height of Big Ben – on the site of the 1915 Battle of Loos in France, where tens of thousands of British soldiers were killed.

Outrage in North Lincolnshire about the plan is being led by lorry driver Graham Burgess, the grandson of one of three local survivors – ex-company quartermaster sergeant Ted Burgess, who died in 1966.

Mr Burgess, 62, of Marmion Road, Scunthorpe, who visited the battlefield five years ago, believed the developers behind the wind farm might be acting out of ignorance.

He said: “The idea is disgraceful and shows no respect to the thousands of British soldiers who lost their lives.

“It should be left to stand as a war graveyard. The land is honeycombed with tunnels and it is likely the remains of those who died will be disturbed by the wind farm.”

The plan was originally submitted last year but has been put on hold to await a decision by the Prefect of the Department of Nord Pas de Calais.

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 the company would pay for archaeological excavations around the site in advance of any development to comply with French law.

Mr Prouvost added: “We don’t know exactly where the turbines will be built and the numbers of turbines. We are studying different scenarios according to the distance from cemeteries.”

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said: “It is important that historic sites are properly respected in the world.

“The battlefield at Loos is particularly important to local families whose relations gave their lives to protect Britain in the First World War.

“The sanctity of that sacrifice should be respected. However change is the only constant in our lives and it should be up to local people to consider all the implications of any proposals in terms of future use.

“In doing so I would strongly urge that they think carefully about how to honour those who sacrificed their lives so that Europe can be free.”

The bravery of the 31 soldiers of the 13th Scunthorpe and Brigg Platoon in the First World War along with their companions from the Fifth Lincolnshire Regiment has gone down in military history.

Their attack on October 13, 1915 on a German fortification known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt stands as a feat of arms of which the British Army would always be proud.

In his memoirs, written 20 years after the battle, Mr Burgess said: “Those who mourn their loved ones can rest assured the lads showed a courage never surpassed in the face of almost certain death.

“Many tears were seen and the last terrible memory was the roll call. Out of 31 lads in 13 Platoon only three of us answered the call.”