The Australian Government is being urged to intervene to stop a wind farm proposed in France at the site of a World War I battlefield.
More than 10,000 Australians lost their lives at the two battles at Bullecourt 100 years ago.
Sky News reported that French energy company Engie Green had proposed to erect six turbines on the grounds of the former killing fields in the country’s north.
Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan said he planned to talk with the French government to get a better understanding of what was planned amid fears unmarked graves could be desecrated.
“I’ll be speaking with my French counterpart and getting clarification on this matter,” he said in a statement.
“The French people, like the Australian people, understand the significance of this land and they have the upmost respect for the sacrifices made by Australian soldiers on their soil.
“Australia enjoys a close working relationship with the French government when it comes to recovering the remains of Australians from French battlefields.”
The project would involve digging for foundations, as well as transmission tunnels, other earth works and infrastructure, it said.
War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said Australia should be consulted before any plans to build the wind farm go ahead.
“I would like to think a sane and sensible government, in this case on the French side, would reflect on the fact that the very important contemporary bilateral relationship not in any way be jeopardised,” Dr Nelson said.
“I think what also would be helpful would be for the relevant French authorities to give Australia and Australians a very clear explanation of what is being proposed.
“Getting some facts on the public table here in Australia would be a very good start on this.”