A senior French government official will write a letter of concern about plans to build a giant wind turbine farm on a World War I battlefield, after descendants of the thousands of Australians who died – and the Australian government – were outraged by the proposal.
Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan said he had spoken to Genevieve Darrieussecq, France’s secretary of state to the Minister for Armed Forces, about plans to build six turbines on the battle of Bullecourt site.
There were more than 10,000 Australian casualties in two battles in April and May 1917 on land where French firm Maia Eolis plans to construct the wind farm. Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman’s great uncle was one of them.
“I spoke with my French counterpart at 5 o’clock this afternoon … she was very understanding of the concerns raised in Australia about this proposal,” Mr Tehan said. “She has said that she will write to the public inquiry a formal letter expressing the concerns of the Australian people to this proposal. She will also raise it with the head prefect of the region and she will come back to me with more information following that discussion.”
Mr Tehan, who will meet the French ambassador today, said Ms Darrieussecq would write the letter in the next two days. “We’re trying to get more information on the process itself,” he said. “This has been going for well over two years … I’m assuming the public inquiry will go for some weeks. My view is I do not think this wind farm would proceed.”
It is estimated the remains of 3000 to 4000 Australian, British and German soldiers were never recovered from Bullecourt.
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