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Fury at wind farm that will desecrate 100-year-old Anzac memorial avenue in tiny town

Oberon wind farm

Locals in the small town of Oberon in New South Wales are furious over plans to build a massive wind farm that will require an Anzac memorial avenue of century-old trees to be slashed.

Oberon residents have been fighting plans by the Forestry Corporation of NSW to install between 350 to 625 wind turbines in the region, including a proposal for the Paling Yards wind farm.

That project will see 47 turbines up to 240 metres tall built 60km south of the town, and require Spanish renewable energy giant GPG to transport turbine blades and other large components through the tiny village of O’Connell, along the O’Connell Avenue Memorial Drive.

Oberon wind farm O'Connell Anzac memorial Avenue of Honour
The O’Connell ANZAC Memorial Avenue will be impacted by the construction of the Paling Yards wind farm (Avenues of Honour)

The memorial, planted to honour the World War 1 service and sacrifice of local Anzacs, was opened in 1926 and consists of a double row of desert ash trees which now form a canopy over the road.

GPG has admitted contact from the blades would affect about a metre of tree in 10 locations, but claimed the impact would be minor, and could be mitigated by pruning and pinning back of branches.

Bathurst MP Paul O’Toole told The Daily Telegraph the Avenue of Honour was an “icon for the village of O’Connell and a meaningful memorial for the families of WWI veterans who served from the area”.

“This just goes to show that these foreign-owned energy moguls will do anything to make their money-making renewable factories, even to the extent of destroying war memorials,” he said.

Shadow Environment Minister Jonathon Duniam said it was an example of the government “trashing the environment to save the planet” and said Victoria’s Labor Premier Jacinta Allan was doing the same thing to the Western Port Ramsar wetlands.

“Where do we stop, where do we draw the line, with what expense is appropriate to foot when it comes to this pursuit of transition to renewables?” Mr Duniam asked on Sky News.

“Now in Oberon it is okay to desecrate a monument to our fallen Diggers, people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and liberties, for a wind farm.”

Of the 66 known men and women of the area who enlisted in World War 1, 12 were killed in action, and the O’Connell ANZAC Memorial Avenue is of particular historical significance, being one of only a few surviving similar memorial avenues in NSW.

“The trees were raised from seed imported from the Middle East by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, and grown at the Bathurst Experimental Farm.  Desert Ash trees were chosen for their hardiness and links to World War I battle sites,” the Avenues of Honour project said.

“The high branches of the towering mature trees of the living war memorial connect each with each other to form an arch resembling a cathedral. This symbol of grandeur and honour is deeply significant to the community of O’Connell and district.”

Oberon wind farm
A photograph edited by local residents to show the impact of the massive wind turbine proposal on the Oberon area (Facebook)

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