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Decision day approaches for wind farm plan on Tigers’ WW1 battlefield site

A decision is looming on controversial plans to build massive wind turbines the site of a First World War battlefield where tens of thousands of British soldiers died.

French firm InnoVent wants to put up three turbines, each twice the height of Big Ben, on the site of the 1915 Battle of Loos, in northern France.

The Royal Leicester Regiment, known as the Tigers, lost more than 500 men in just a week of fierce fighting.

A row over whether the scheme should be permitted in a site of such historic importance has been rumbling on for four years but local officials look set to approve the scheme, according to French news reports.

Campaigners however are urging them not to despoil the battlefield near the village of Auchy Les Mines.

Regimental historian Richard Lane said: “These wind turbines would have an awful impact on the battlefield where many British soldiers still lie.

“With the size of these things the foundations have to go 40 feet down.

“The area is filled with tunnels and there are likely to be the remains of those who died that could be disturbed.”

East Midlands MEP Rory Palmer has now raised his concerns about the plan.

The former deputy mayor of Leicester said: “Over 60,000 men lost their lives in the Battle of Loos including 500 from the Leicestershire Tigers Regiment.

“Their sacrifice must never be forgotten and fundamental to that is ensuring that this and future generations treat the battlefield sites where those brave men gave their lives with dignity and respect.”

“I am concerned about the plans to build wind turbines on this site. Just over a decade ago it was planned to turn the site into a rubbish dump.

“I appeal to the local decision makers to act sensitively and recognise the importance of this site. I have written to the local Prefect of the region Pas de Calais asking that he intervenes to review this proposal with a view to protecting the dignity of this site and I have also offered to meet with local officials in France to discuss this.”

In 2004, more than 1,000 Leicester Mercury readers joined a protest to stop French authorities turning the battlefield site into a rubbish dump.

Following the campaign, supported by the Regimental Association, and figures such as French historian Jean Luc Gloriant and the British Consul General in Lille, the dumping ceased.