Engie Green abandons six-turbine wind farm earmarked for the former Bullecourt battlefields, following storm of protest
“Our soldiers can rest in peace now.”
That was how families welcomed the news that a wind farm proposed for the final resting place of thousands of soldiers on a World War I French battlefield, has been scrapped.
French company Engie Green announced on Monday that it would abandon a six-turbine wind farm earmarked for the former Bullecourt battlefields, following a storm of protest.
Warrnambool man Bill McKellar, whose uncle Mitchell McKellar is among an estimated 2300 Aussie Diggers whose remains are still unrecovered on the 1917 battlefields, said the decision was “fantastic news”.
“I am very happy that they’ve realised how important that part of France is to Australia,” Mr McKellar said. “I think everybody should be congratulated on their efforts to stop this project. For our soldiers, you feel like they can rest in peace, without fear of being dug up.”
Yambuk’s Geoff Youl, whose great-uncle John Youl was killed in the second of the two Bullecourt battles, applauded Engie Green’s decision.
“All credit to the power company and the French Government to take into account our concerns, and also the work of our local member Dan Tehan,” he said.
Wannon MP and Veteran’s Affairs Minister, Mr Tehan said it was with “real relief and happiness” that he received notification of the decision.
“The Engie group has listened to the concerns of the Australian people and they have acted with empathy by cancelling this project,” Mr Tehan said after receiving the news via a hand-delivered letter to his office from the company.
He also acknowledged the efforts of south-west families in fighting the proposal.
“To the local families who have ancestors who fought at Bullecourt, thank you for your passionate advocacy on this issue, because I have no doubt that helped ensure the company made the decision that it did.
Mr Tehan said he would continue to work co-operatively with the French to ensure the sacred battlefields would be preserved in the future.
Engie Green CEO for Australia and New Zealand Michel Gantois wrote to Mr Tehan that the Bullecourt ground “should remain undisturbed, to be a place of reflection and commemoration for the generations to come”.
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