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horrocks

Wind Turbines at Ginchy?

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horrocks
Posted (edited)

I noticed a planning consent sign opposite the Guards Memorial on the Hogsback a couple of years ago, and upon revisiting last week my worst suspicions appear to have been confirmed. Contractors have dug a number of identical circular pits, one at the site of the original notice, not 50ft from the Guards Memorial, another at the far end of Straight Trench, just opposite and behind the Ginchy Quadrilateral, one in front of the Quadrilateral, another close to Ginchy Telegraph, just opposite the derelict house on the Lesboeufs road, one on the Combles road I think not far from the Dickens Memorial, another on the long straight track that leads from the Ginchy-Flers lane, again just beyond the HT cables. The track which joins it on the Hogsback off the Ginchy-Lesboeufs road beyond the Guards Memorial has been widened and metalled presumably to accomodate traffic for yet more installations on the Hogsback. There are markers in the verges of all the roads there presumably denoting the course of cabling. I noticed signs pointing to E3 to E10, so presumably there are at least 8 sites. Where E1 and 2 are I know not.

 

If these are turbines, and I can't think what else they might be, they represent the first encroachment of these monsters into the heart of the 1916 Somme battlefield, and I can think of few if any locations from which they won't be eminently visible, both day, and with their starkly hideous jabbing neon warning lights, equally by night. I know that opinions on these things are mixed, but I can't help but wonder, whether, in all the vastness of Picardy, it was really vital to plonk them all over such an emotive and historically significant landscape.

 

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Edited by horrocks

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EAST YORKSHIRE

I think it would be a shame to blight such a landscape but I believe it was inevitable and  may see more sprouting up elsewhere! . Every year I spend an evening walking around Newfoundland Memorial Park  and always have the backdrop of the flashing lights beyond Beaumont Hamel to remind me I am in the 21st Century. If it is Turbines they are building I am glad I have walked the area before it is changed forever. The authorities might think after the Centenary, people might not be interested in going anymore-who knows. I am over there in May and August so will make the most of it whilst I can, would be interesting to know if any groups have been brought it to oversee the works as it will be inevitable  that there will be the subject of human  remains. Thanks for highlighting this Toby      Ian.

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nigelcave

There was a planning notice for one very close to the Nfd Memorial at Gueudecourt a couple of years ago, but nothing seemed to have happened when I was there last year. There is a whole line of them going up to the west of Biaches, south of the Somme.

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horrocks
1 hour ago, nigelcave said:

There was a planning notice for one very close to the Nfd Memorial at Gueudecourt a couple of years ago, but nothing seemed to have happened when I was there last year. There is a whole line of them going up to the west of Biaches, south of the Somme.

 

I stopped there on Thursday, and there is neither notice nor, as yet, any sign of turbines.

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nigelcave

I think (but please don't take that as Gospel!)  that Veterans Affairs Canada might have said something - the dimensions of the thing on the planning notice were vast. The notice appeared on a site on the far side of the memorial, down the road maybe a hundred metres or so heading north west, towards Beaulencourt, and by a track (very handy for turning around in the days before the French provided a parking area).

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LEUZEWOOD
Posted (edited)

We saw this notice back in September 2016 on the north west corner of Leuze Wood adjacent to the path leading to the Dickens Memorial. This section of the Battlefield has great significance to my family, and we were all saddened to think that it will never be the same again.

 

 

IMG_3717.jpg

Edited by LEUZEWOOD

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horrocks

Yes, the same as the one I photographed at the Guards Memorial at the same time. Eolienne, I'm afraid, confirms the worst.

 

I simply can't see the necessity, the Picardy plains are vast. Very sad indeed.

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horrocks

I'm vaguely surprised that this thread hasn't garnered more comments, as I know that desecration of the battlefields can raise temperatures here. Peering at the map in Peter Barton's book today, I notice that one of the turbines is being raised in front of the Quadrilateral and very precisely within 230 x 230 metre grid T14D in the battlefield clearance maps, from whence an astonishing 274 bodies were recovered after the war. It is also the probable location in which the tragic John Duesbery, 2nd Sherwood Foresters quietly died after having written a letter to his mother. The letter was recovered, but his grave was subsequently lost, and whilst it is probable that he was amongst the 274, it is also possible that he and many others still lie out in these fields. Others are are being located on the line of advance of the Guards Division at Ginchy, where Raymond Asquith and Guy Baring, Mark and Edward Tennant, and so many others were killed. The holes that have been dug for the foundations of these things are substantial, and I would be extremely surprised, indeed amazed, should human remains have not been uncovered, and would be intrigued to know that should this be the case, that there is a set and rigorous procedure in place to ensure that the relevant authorities are notified, and that the remains are recovered according to best practice.

 

I note too that there is speculation that the Canadian Veterans Association may have stopped the erection of more turbines near to the Newfoundland Memorial. Should this be the case, are there such organisations here in the UK than might have some influence over any further plans? Indeed, how does one go about finding out whether there have been are are likely to be further applications within the 1916 Somme battlefield, and what can one do to lodge objections? Have, indeed, the relevant UK bodies, which may well include the CWGC, been formally informed. Does the WFA perhaps have a handle on this?

 

My fear is that before we know it the rest of the battlefield is going to be covered with these hideous things, and, the destruction of the landscape aside, time and money being the master, such horrors and the tragedies as will inevitably be uncovered will be quietly and quickly disposed of long before the authorities will be involved.

 

I would be interested in forum members' thoughts on these points.

Edited by horrocks

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Michelle Young

I don't like them any more than you, but maybe it's because I'm not Somme centric I'm not as concerned. I'm certainly not happy about the proposed wind farm at the Hohenzollern Redobt, which appears to have been given a two year stay of execution.

They  are all over the Arras battlefields in strategic places, and I noted a new one going up oppose Orival Wood  cemetery last October. We don't own the land, but we have an interest and our families blood was spilled there. We can register protest but I don't see we can do much more.

Michelle 

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Gareth Davies
25 minutes ago, horrocks said:

I'm vaguely surprised that this thread hasn't garnered more comments, as I know that desecration of the battlefields can raise temperatures here. Peering at the map in Peter Barton's book today, I notice that one of the turbines is being raised in front of the Quadrilateral and very precisely within 230 x 230 metre grid T14D in the battlefield clearance maps, from whence an astonishing 274 bodies were recovered after the war. It is also the probable location in which the tragic John Duesbery, 2nd Sherwood Foresters quietly died after having written a letter to his mother. The letter was recovered, but his grave was subsequently lost, and whilst it is probable that he was amongst the 274, it is also possible that he and many others still lie out in these fields. Others are are being located on the line of advance of the Guards Division at Ginchy, where Raymond Asquith and Guy Baring, Mark and Edward Tennant, and so many others were killed. The holes that have been dug for the foundations of these things are substantial, and I would be extremely surprised, indeed amazed, should human remains have not been uncovered, and would be intrigued to know that should this be the case, that there is a set and rigorous procedure in place to ensure that the relevant authorities are notified, and that the remains are recovered according to best practice.

 

I note too that there is speculation that the Canadian Veterans Association may have stopped the erection of more turbines near to the Newfoundland Memorial. Should this be the case, are there such organisations here in the UK than might have some influence over any further plans? Indeed, how does one go about finding out whether there have been are are likely to be further applications within the 1916 Somme battlefield, and what can one do to lodge objections? Have, indeed, the relevant UK bodies, which may well include the CWGC, been formally informed. Does the WFA perhaps have a handle on this?

 

My fear is that before we know it the rest of the battlefield is going to be covered with these hideous things, and, the destruction of the landscape aside, time and money being the master, such horrors and the tragedies as will inevitably be uncovered will be quietly and quickly disposed of long before the authorities will be involved.

 

I would be interested in forum members' thoughts on these points.

 

But it's not desecration is it?  And hideousness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  Sure, it will change the character of the battlefields but it's not going to stop me visiting the battlefields, it's not going to stop me telling the stories of what happened there in 1914 - 1918, it's not going to make me less inclined to reflect on the sacrifice of the individuals who gave their lives and the sacrifices of those who came home broken.  It won't stop me telling those stories to the hundreds of school children that I take to the Somme each year.  And I doubt it will have any impact on what they get out of such a visit.  Yes, some human remains will no doubt be found but I am confident that they will be treated with due respect.  

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voltaire60
9 hours ago, horrocks said:

My fear is that before we know it the rest of the battlefield is going to be covered with these hideous things, and, the destruction of the landscape aside, time and money being the master, such horrors and the tragedies as will inevitably be uncovered will be quietly and quickly disposed of long before the authorities will be involved.

 

      There are 2 separate issues here- i) Whether one likes or dislikes  wind turbines and ii)  Preservation of the "battlefield"

 

   As to  i)-well, you pay your money and take your choice.

 

   and ii) The current landscape of the Western Front battlefields is neither the original  pre-1914 landscape, nor is it a preserved battlefield. -an area the size of Holland was devastated in France- significant efforts were made to clear the battlefields of debris-both materiel and human remains so the land could be restored to it's pre-war agricultural economy.  The battlefields were NOT left as they were-save in a few preserved bits- thus, the landscape is a restored agricultural pastiche of the pre-war landscape. What you seek to preserve is a post-war cleaned up version-neither the original, nor the wartime landscapes.

     Good thing too- Keep all the Western Front as a trophy/memorial- Not a realistic idea.  I agree with GD that human remains are likely to be uncovered but there is no suggestion that the wind farm builders will treat such matters with any less reverence than as usual all year,every year across the old front.

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horrocks

Many thanks for some interesting viewpoints.

 

Despite my initial best intention to avoid the use of subjective language, I was aware that allowing words such as 'desecration' and 'hideous' to creep into my post above would probably stimulate a range of responses. I didn't expect for one minute that other forum members would necessarily agree with me, but that there is differing opinion on such matters is surely the purpose of a discussion forum.

 

I come from an arts background, one which combines with a childhood interest in history sufficient to inspire two children of my own who have gone on to gain university degrees in the subject. Apart from my day to day profession in the wine trade, my chosen medium in the arts (if you would credit it as such) is photography, and my specific interest lies in landscape photography, with which my interest in history combines to attempt (probably in vain) to seek out and express the notion of landscape and memory. I concede entirely that I come at the subject, if you will, from an emotional rather than necessarily coldly practical point of view.

 

For the past several years I have been working on a personal project to document the landscapes of the Somme, but very specifically those through which writers, poets, musicians and warriors passed and left accounts sufficiently detailed to identify those locations today. Jones, Graves, Sassoon, Owen, Blunden and Junger would be obvious candidates, but there are many others, non-poets definitively amongst them. The results of the project, black and white prints accompanied by excerpts from the relevant passages, have been exhibited, and I hope in due course to publish them in book form.

 

This project and the research that has been an integral part of it have left me familiar, in places quite intimately so, with the Somme landscapes. It has also, in response to Michelle's point about the Arras sector, left me lamentably unfamiliar with other areas of the Western Front, or indeed any other front. I would argue from this admittedly narrow viewpoint that the Somme, perhaps to a greater degree than any other battle except Passchendaele, has left an indelible mark on our common inherited culture (and I don't limit that 'our' exclusively to the British). The Somme is part of our cultural, emotional and very often familial inheritance, and its landscapes remain part of that legacy.

 

I both agree and disagree with the points raised above. The Somme, in common with most of the WF, is a working landscape, indeed, it is a factory devoted to highly intensive, largely arable, agriculture, from which its inhabitants make a living. I take issue though with V's assertion that it is merely a 'pastiche' of its pre-war appearance. I suspect that, barring the numerous cemeteries that bring grace and solemnity to it now, the Somme is probably strikingly similar to its pre-1914 countenance. It was no less industrial then than now, indeed, with its network of railways servicing the sugar beet industry, still its primary product, and a rather higher population, most of it working in agriculture, it was by appearance undoubtedly more so. There was never the enclosure that we have here, the ownership of land being denoted by the small stone markers that you still find. The woods have regrown precisely within their pre-war boundaries, and the villages, rather smaller now, and farms, were rebuilt in the same locations. I certainly don't wish for the Somme to be preserved in aspic, but by form and function rather than sentimental intention, it in many respects is so. But pastiche it is not.

 

Amongst the defining aspects of this gentle yet functional, remarkable yet unremarkable, landscape is its combination of intimacy and openness, features in which the relationship between the land and the sky are fundamental, and within this relationship counterplay the ever shifting factors of width and depth. These vast wind turbines utterly change those relationships, impacting on all of their parts, drawing them in and fundamentally interrupting them in terms of the sense of distance, breadth and scale, and of the dominance of the wide, empty skies. They also completely change the human scale, indeed to a significant extent, destroy it. The Guards Memorial on the 'Hogsback', hitherto a solemnly isolated marker on that most open of Somme landscapes, will now be physically dwarfed, and the meaning of its location belittled, by its towering new neighbour, from which a cricket ball could easily be pitched.

 

I am not against wind turbines per se, and I even concede that individually, and in small groups and in daylight, they have a grace and form that can possess a certain beauty. Too many of them, and such virtues as they possess in individual elegance is quickly dissipated. At night, there is no grace, and no beauty, for they will not merely change, but utterly and irrevocably destroy the solitude, isolation, sanctity and scale of the dusk and the night time skies.

 

Gareth, I too will continue to visit the Somme, and speak of the battles and the people, our forebears, who lived and died in them. However, the landscapes and the skyscapes that those students will see will bear, for the first time in a century and beyond, a fundamentally changed relationship to those which we saw, and which indeed those forebears saw, and which are so much part of the enduring emotional and cultural legacy of The Battle of the Somme.

 

I reiterate, the plains of Picardy are vast, the Somme battlefield is only a very small part of it. This intrusion, which I suspect is going to become very much greater, really isn't necessary.

 

My apologies, this has become something of an essay.

 

I have written to the CWGC inquiring as to whether there have been recoveries resulting from the current excavations in the Ginchy, Lesboeufs, Combles triangle.

 

Edited by horrocks

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voltaire60

No, not an essay- a thoughtful piece of writing.  Perhaps "pastiche" is the wrong term. What I am trying to say is that the landscape-especially of the Somme- is a recent (comparatively) arrangement. I had in mind the old, hoary apocryphal story of  George Washington's axe in a museum- Woodworm got to the haft, so the museum had it replaced. Then the blade got rusty and the museum replaced that as well......other than that, it is completely original.  Nothing can put the Somme landscape back to what it was before 1914. Those who watched  Peter Barton's excellent documentaries on the Somme will, no doubt,recall the rather rude description of the Somme by an Australian soldier- "Mile after mile of s***-coloured f***-all."

    The French Government did it's best to restore the landscape- and there is,as you say, a thriving arable economy. You do notice that the landscape-especially the towns and villages are restored. Having a French wife, I became very familiar with war-damaged (both wars) towns in various parts of northern France- her family live in the southern end of the Champagne region,north of Troyes, where the "vasty fields" are similar to the Somme, though not as flat- sugar beet is the staple there as well. Towns and villages that have been rebuilt are easy to spot- concrete window  and door frames and iron barred-basement windows are the most obvious for me (Done mostly by retained German POW labour after the Second World War-not sure if German POWs were retained as labour after the Great War). So,yes-the landscape may be 99% the same- the villages and towns are certainly pastiche-with  the use of concrete, they lack the higgledy-piggledy vernacular of long-established rural areas.

   The Somme landscape is what it is- a rolling agricultural region dotted with war cemeteries. Those cemeteries are now-irrevocably- part of the landscape We expect to see them when we visit. So,yes, the Somme landscape is what it is- memories included.  But I would mention 2 points in this context:

1) There is a difference between "landscape" and "panorama"- the "landscape" portion would seem to mean the "rural economy" of the area. And the normal objection to wind turbines is that they spoil the "panorama" rather than the "landscape"

2) "Landscape" and rural economy is ever-changing and man-made anyway. Roads-even motorways have been built through the battlefield areas, supermarkets, factories,etc come and go- indeed,the most publicised of the discoveries of the remains of British soldiers has been when there is either building/demolition going on,  This is not going to stop. The landscape will change if there is a rural economy to sustain- the locals want their "Mammoth"  and "Carrefour"as much as anywhere else.

   One small aspect of the Somme being a working agricultural area  does cause a chuckle now and again- the reports on this Forum about some French farmers being grumpy. Well, as a country boy I can tell you with certainty that grumpy farmers are a universal phenomenon. When GWF members report that a farmer will not allow car parking on his land-or access to some  place of homage on the old battlefields, then I ask myself what a British farmer would do if had frequent interlopers on his farmland-answer: pretty much the same as their French cousins.

 

PS- Your avatar shows a rather contented mutt- Sure he/she would be happy with whatever landscape you go to.

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horrocks

V, thank's for your response. I think in my epistle above 'Landscape' and 'Panorama' can be taken to mean the same thing, as in 'landscape photography', but yes, I take your point, and indeed in my text I made lengthy reference to what actually happens within that landscape.

 

Motorways and roads have indeed been built across battlefields, something of which I am always very uncomfortably aware as I pass above the trenches and saps below the Vimy Memorial at 90mph, and supermarkets and factories built upon them. However not, thus far, on the 1916 Somme battlefield (though there appears to be an industrial estate under construction just beyond its eastern limit, beside the Roman Road outside Bapaume). And as regards the economy, wind turbines are undoubtedly extremely lucrative for the companies who operate them (especially, I understand, when the wind isn't blowing), and I suspect they represent a very nice annual bung for the lucky farmers upon whose land they are erected, to whom I suspect that the land is solely their source of income, rather than one of indulgent and relaxed contemplation.

 

As regards the post-war rebuilding, I always find it a relief to step away from the battle area for a while, there is a certain austere, and often rather tatty, monotony in the rebuilt villages and farms. I also always recall a passage in one of the volumes of '20 Years After' that speculated upon the appearance of the architects tasked with designing the new churches as having entered into an unspoken competition as to who could design the ugliest. Whoever was responsible for the Lesboeufs monstrosity would take some beating, but there are any number not far behind.

 

I see, or assume, from your information, that you are Wanstead stock. Me too. My family (Webster) ran The George from 1927 to 1971, as well as a Butcher, Grocers and Wine Shop in the High Street for many years, though there are none of us left there now.

 

My avatar (the Horrocks of my 'nom-de-plume') was a fine mate, and, as you can surmise, great character, long-since passed on to that great panorama reserved for much loved dogs.

 

I leave you with this!

 

20180303_3274_1024.jpg

 

Ginchy, Somme, March 2018

 

Toby

Edited by horrocks

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voltaire60

Hi Toby- thanks for a great note above- Very much enjoyed reading it. Phew! I thought I was alone among Brits.  in finding the French towns of the Somme area irredeemably horrible. French functionalist architecture of the inter-war years  is just awful.  The worst I know is a little away-Amiens. My father in law and I went to see it years ago when he was offered it as a choice of Inspecteur de l'Academie- even he-a truly patriotic Frenchman-thought the place so awful that he turned the job down. So, I think the Somme will be nibbled- but,on the plus side, the French Government-esp. regional does seem aware that for the British. the area holds a special place- so I think the regional and departmental officials have actually been a lot more sensitive over the years than they generally get credit for- the Somme area is notably freer of out-of-town warehouses and twee little bungalow estates compared to almost anywhere else. So we may kick up with one-off schemes but the Somme locals seem well aware that they have a heritage site-albeit disproportionately someone else's heritage.

    I'm glad you know Wanstead- The George is not unknown to me- I think it is now very prosperous as a Witherspoons and has not decayed as many of the old large pubs of that size have done. Lanbdlords eh? Better not mention Harry Roberts too much.

    Whatever happens, enjoy your visits to the Somme area

 

Pip,pip

Mike

 

Edited by voltaire60

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chaz

as a house owner in England and France, I much prefer the windmills in the Pas de Calais than the sheets of glass we have around Melksham in the heart of Wiltshire.

the farmers can still get around in France, the fields here are lost for agriculture, I have heard arguments that sheep can graze under the solar panels.... on what mud?

as long as the EDF/Edenis etc consult and have historians or specialist  such as CWGC to hand while digging things could proceed.

 

as for landscape, Im not sure the vast fields nowadays are the same as pre WW1, when you take our village, probably one in 10 houses are or were farms, you can tell by layout and courtyards so they must have had land somewhere, my thoughts being that after both wars, a lot of farmers/workers were lost and families died out so, the land was dispersed to others and therefore certain farmers became holders of larger and larger farms.

I would say this is born out buy the local cemeteries. as we do look around (for the one off CWGC headstone) it is noticeable how many graves have fallen into disrepair also , on many now the local Maire is leaving notices regarding the possession and re-use of land where these dilapidated graves currently stand.

when you visit around mothers day, you do see a lot of activity and the sale of chrysanthemums so to say people do not visit graveyards is a non arguement, we have seen single teenagers call in on Sunday dinnertime to pay their respects.

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horrocks
On 13/03/2018 at 15:24, chaz said:

as for landscape, Im not sure the vast fields nowadays are the same as pre WW1, when you take our village, probably one in 10 houses are or were farms, you can tell by layout and courtyards so they must have had land somewhere, my thoughts being that after both wars, a lot of farmers/workers were lost and families died out so, the land was dispersed to others and therefore certain farmers became holders of larger and larger farms...

 

I am certain, Napoleonic Law notwithstanding, that there are fewer much larger farms now than pre-war, but I shouldn't imagine the appearance of the land has changed dramatically - the land here was never enclosed as it was in England, and was primarily arable pre-war just as it is now. There would have been clusters of enclosed/fenced paddocks around the villages devoted to cattle and orchards, which you still see, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent, but the arable holdings themselves were marked out by small stone markers, which you still often find at the side of fields. Their function has of course been replaced by GPS. There were more lanes and tracks pre-war too, but I should think that the primary visual distinction is the loss of corn stoops, horse-drawn equipment, and human beings, and their replacement by perfect, uniform crop growth, round bales and vast tractors drawing even vaster trailers - 6 wheelers with a steering rear axle are a common sight, and pretty daunting when they loom towards flat-out you on some of the narrower roads.

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horrocks

OK. I wrote to the CWGC;

 

Dear Sirs

I noticed recently that some 10 wind turbines are being erected on the ground between Ginchy, Lesboeufs and Combles, the first such intrusion into the 1916 Somme battlefield. During the post-war clearances there were some very high concentrations of battle casualties recovered here, and it would seem certain that there would be others who were not found. I have two questions; has the Commission been notified of any remains being found during the quite substantial excavations for the foundations of the turbines, and is there any process of monitoring to ensure that any remains that are uncovered are reported, and that subsequent recovery is made according to best practice?

With thanks in advance

Sincerely etc..

 

Their reply;

 

Dear Mr. Webster

 

Thank you for your e-mail which was forwarded to this office as we are responsible for the care and the maintenance of the cemeteries and memorials in Western Europa to which France also belongs.

 

I have forwarded your concerns regarding the building of ten wind turbines in the area of Ginchy, Lesboeufs and Combles to the responsible department. Unfortunately, to this day, we were not informed about these plans.  Secondly, we have not been notified of any remains being found during these works. However, I will contact the Manager responsible for discovery of remains and inform him of your concerns as well. In case remains should be discovered, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, together with the appropriate Commonwealth authorities (Defence Section) monitor and ensure that the remains would be uncovered, reported and buried according to formal procedures.

 

In principle, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has no objections to the erection of wind mills providing that these are placed at a distance of at least 500 meter away from any of our cemeteries or memorials and that we have the assurance that these constructions are not overbearing and have no adverse impact on our sites.

 

To find out more about this project, we will be dealing direct with the local town authorities to obtain the required information on location, impact, size,. but of course as the wind mills are already erected, as you will understand, it will be difficult for us to do anything about it.

 

Please rest assured that the Commission always endeavours, in as far as possible, to maintain the integrity and the esthetical view of its war cemeteries and memorials.

 

Kind regards
...
Communications Coordinator, WEA

 

 

 

Edited by horrocks

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Michelle Young

Epehy earlier. Equally an important battlefield. 

A3FC665F-3440-4154-8F79-786E3DA9D933.jpeg

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LEUZEWOOD
On 23 March 2018 at 16:26, horrocks said:

Unfortunately, to this day, we were not informed about these plans.  Secondly, we have not been notified of any remains being found during these works.

 

 

Frankly I am astounded, not necessarily that they weren't informed, but that they don't make it their business to know that developments like this are taking place.

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imaginatian

Out of curiosity were there concerns and/or complaints raised during the 1950's when the A1 AutoRoute was built, or during the 1980's when the LGV Nord railway line was also built? Threading an almost straight path through this region for these significant infrastructure projects could not have been easy to do. I'm sure the groundworks for these developments must have uncovered significant military remains, both human and hardware.

 

L'Homme Mort British Cemetery, sandwiched between the motorway and railway line, is a permanently noisy place to visit. Summit Trench Cemetery is similarly noisy, although at least you can't see but only hear the motorway, and to a lesser extent the railway line. Hibers Trench Cemetery and Cojeul British Cemetery are also noisy right next to the motorway. While tucked away down a track and surrounded by trees there's a constant drone of tyre on tarmac at Crump Trench British Cemetery and the less regular whirr of trains passing by at high speed, all amplified by the bridge over the nearby canal.

 

Personally I would prefer proximity to wind turbines over a major road or railway line. I guess, forced to choose, I prefer some visual "pollution" over aural, at least when visiting cemeteries.

 

Regards,

 

Ian

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horrocks
Posted (edited)

Since I last posted to this thread I have been doing a bit of 'googling' on the subject of wind turbines in France, and it materialises that their appearance is often not achieved without opposition. The Somme region, it appears, is the most densely sown of France's regions with these things. There has been no small amount of controversy throughout the country, with many reports of projects being delayed by long court hearings, most often based around the substantial loss of value in domestic property, noise problems that have been sufficient to drive people from their homes, and allegations of mayoral complicity in pushing consent through in exchange for fat brown envelopes. The companies that promote, erect and operate the turbines have enjoyed considerable government subsidy, and there are often substantial 'Section 21' type bungs to communities, which again, can be divisive. Consent has also served to promote poor relations within communities, with landowners who have turbines on their land benefiting to the tune of between 5,000 and 12,000 or more Euros each year.

 

Amongst all this I note reports of one turbine farm that was erected, then subsequently succesfully challenged and ordered to be removed by the the court, only to be granted a reprieve on appeal.

 

The earliest reference that I found to this specific project (without going into French government & regional archives) was on Jeremy Banning's blog, dated June 2010, when he saw the planning application notices when out cycling. I assume that permission may have been initially refused, or at least held up, because the signs subsequently vanished, and then reappeared 6 years later when Leuzewood and I first photograped them.

 

http://www.lathus-ventdebout.org/Figaro-04-09-15-English.pdf

 

http://jeremybanning.co.uk/?s=wind+turbines&x=0&y=0

 

I do find it beyond curious that the CWGC wasn't notified. It would be interesting to know if the CWGC administers to the Guards Memorial too, as the turbine being erected there is barely 50 metres from the monument, still less 500 metres.

 

I also find it completely unbelievable that no human remains have been uncovered during these extensive excavations. Contrary to Gareth's assertion above, if they haven't been reported, then there has been no 'due reverence', let alone best practice.

 

I think that this development sets a very worrying precendent for the rest of the 1916 Somme battlefield. At best I can certainly see the entire area east of the high-tension powerlines as an area in jeopardy now.

Edited by horrocks

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mjollnir

Here's a view two weeks ago from the site of the Quadrilateral towards Ginchy, showing the excavation in progress for a wind turbine. The other nearest excavation is behind where I'm standing between the Quadrilateral and Bouleaux Wood, along the lane just beyond the Dickens memorial. Neither of these excavations actually cuts into the site of the Quadrilateral, according to my estimation, but they are very close. In the case of the one towards Ginchy in the photo, it lies on the line of advance of the 15 September assault and subsequent attempts to take the Quadrilateral. Hundreds of men are still missing from these battles and it seems hard to believe that these excavations would not have encountered human remains, potentially undisturbed beneath the ploughsoil. That would seem to be the main issue here - fragments of bone are of course visible in ploughsoil all over the Somme battlefields and their disturbance is a fact of agriculture, but the foundations for these wind turbines cut way below the ploughsoil into layers where battlefield burials might still lie intact. I know of one officer killed on 15 September whose body was found and buried about a week later 'near Ginchy Telegraph', but not relocated after the war; it presumably is (or was) still there, possibly somewhere in the area of that excavation in the photo. At any rate, I think these excavations are a fait accompli and will be finished and backfilled soon, so there is probably nothing to be done. It is of course possible that they did have an archaeological team to hand and followed correct procedures with any human remains found.

Somme 2018 Quadrilateral 41 compressed.jpg

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KIRKY

Has anyone walked over the spoil heaps?

Tony

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horrocks

I think you'll find that there's another one behind the Quadrilateral and on the other side of the road, below the 'Straight Trench' track, and another in the field in front of the Quadrilateral, on the opposite side of the road to your photo. There will be ten in all in this specific development.

 

The problem with any assumption relating to archeological teams is that the relevant authorities (CWGC) haven't been notified of any remains, so I think it could be pretty much assumed that there were no such teams.

 

As an aside, in my wanderings around the Somme, I have seen significant numbers of shells, mills bombs, stokes mortar rounds, bullets and general debris, but have yet to chance upon any human bone fragments. I did stub my toe on a large horse's leg joint a couple of years ago in front of Gueudecourt. The surface soil of all the fields here is regularly destoned prior to the potato and sugar beet crop drilling, I'm quite surprised that anything can still be found. I guess that there is a process akin to osmosis where the debris is continuously drawn or pushed upwards within the soil strata.

 

4 hours ago, KIRKY said:

Has anyone walked over the spoil heaps?

Tony

 

The spoil heaps that I saw in March and showing in the original post seemed almost as if they had been graded.

Edited by horrocks

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