By Richard Wood | 9News | Nov 8, 2017 | www.9news.com.au
RSL members have expressed outrage at reports wind turbines could be built on the site of a World War I battlefield where Diggers are buried.
There are reports a giant wind farm could be constructed where the two Western Front battles of Bullecourt in northern France were fought 100 years ago.
The battles resulted in more than 10,000 Australian casualties.
The president of RSL NSW, James Brown, told Nine.com.au he had received calls from members deeply concerned at the reports.
“I’ve had a lot of our members contact me. Some have relatives whose bodies still have not been repatriated from the site.”
Brown described Bullecourt as one of the most sensitive Australian military sites in France where large numbers of Diggers lie.
“There are still a lot of Australians under the soil there.”
Brown said he was waiting to see details of the wind farm plans which had “come out the blue”.
Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan says the project had been “on-again-off-again” for at least the past year.
He has promised to reach out to his French counterpart to get a better understanding of the situation before taking it any further.
The mayor of the French community has also expressed concerns about the project, according to the federal government.
“The French people, like the Australian people, understand the significance of this land and they have the utmost respect for the sacrifices made by Australian soldiers on their soil,” he told AAP in a statement.
“Australia enjoys a close working relationship with the French government when it comes to recovering the remains of Australians from French battlefields.”
The two battles of Bullecourt in April and May 1917 involved Australian and British troops and were characterised by poor planning and heavy casualites.
British tanks which led the attack around the village of Bullecourt proved easy targets for the German defenders who knocked them out and left the Australian infantry exposed to murderous machine gun fire.
The wind farm proposal provoked a fierce reaction from former Queensland premier Campbell Newman whose great-uncle is among the fallen on the battle site.
“It’s like they’ve gone to a Lone Pine cemetery at Gallipoli and dug a trench across it and put a wind farm up,” Mr Newman told Sky News.
That’s what’s going to happen here.”
“It is an outrage.”
Newman has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to lobby the French government over the issue.
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2017/11/08/anger-at-wind-farm-plan-for-wwi-battlefield/