March 28, 2015
Australia, Editorials

WW1 French battlefield wind turbine plans an insult to Diggers

The Standard | March 28, 2015 |

A plan to erect wind turbines on a World War I battlefield in France where thousands of Australians have lain buried for almost a century beggars belief.

Under a proposal by French energy company the Maia Group, six turbines have been proposed for the site at the Bullecourt battlefield in northern France where 10,000 Australians were killed or wounded in battles in 1917.

Two thousand of those soldiers have no known grave.

The area remains a highly sensitive place in northern France for the relatives of the fallen.

Putting wind turbines on the fields where so many Australians lost their lives and where some still lay is a ridiculous and insulting proposal that should be stopped immediately.

Bombs, bullets, shrapnel and even fragments of bones are still visible around the fields of Bullecourt so why on earth would a wind energy company think it was a suitable site?

The site is regarded by many as a large cemetery for the Australians who gave their lives in bloody battles with the Germans a century ago.

Just because it happened so long ago does not give corporate interests the right to run roughshod over its historical heritage and the feelings of those who still recognise and respect the sacrifice made by so many young Australians fighting in a foreign land.

It is an unpalatable thought, but if the turbines are given the go-ahead by French authorities a large amount of excavation will have to take place.

That will mean that the remains of our fallen heroes will be dug up by bulldozers to make way for a few wind towers.

Can they really be serious about this?

It would be the height of disrespect and surely would compromise what has been, up until now, a strong relationship between France and Australia built on the foundations of mutual understanding about the importance of these battlefields.

French authorities must act quickly to ensure that this ill-conceived proposal does not go ahead.

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