• The Wagga Wagga solar farm site, owned by METKA EGN. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
"Incident was caused by an administrative error," says the international company.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
2 Feb 2021 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2021 - 1:15 PM

The company fined $1500 for the destruction of Wiradjuri artefacts at a solar farm development north of Wagga Wagga, NSW says it "deeply regrets" the incident.

Wiradjuri man Mark Saddler told NITV News he believed between 200-250 artefacts had been impacted by work undertaken by the UK-based company METKA EGN, before they had received an Aboriginal heritage impact permit in July 2020.

METKA EGN said it was only "a small number of Aboriginal objects" that were harmed by this work.

"At no time did METKA EGN intentionally damage Aboriginal objects," a statement to NITV News said.

"This incident was caused by an administrative error and, when potential disturbance of Aboriginal objects by preliminary works was identified, it immediately ceased all activity and self-reported the incident to the Department."

METKA EGN said it had "apologised unreservedly to the local Indigenous community and has since worked with community members and archaeological experts to salvage all other identified Aboriginal objects at the site."

"METKA EGN is committed to following cultural heritage best-practice at all of its Australian projects, including early engagement with local Indigenous representatives," they said.

"Since this incident, METKA EGN has improved internal protocols and procedures to ensure such an administrative error cannot be repeated and has commissioned cultural awareness training for all Wagga site employees, as well as subcontractors and service providers.

"This training, to be led by local Indigenous community members, is intended to start with employees at the Wagga North Solar Farm project."

Mr Saddler told NITV News the $1500 fine the company had to pay was not enough, nor was any apology.

"What METKA have done is destroyed a Songline down here, they've broken a Songline and $1500 is no good," he said.

"I want to see a much more substantial fine."

He said the money from any fine should go back to the community, and help pay for the construction of a cultural centre.

'Minor fine' for UK-based firm after destroying Wiradjuri artefacts
The company, METKA EGN, began work on its solar farm site on Wiradjuri Country, north of Wagga Wagga, before receiving an Aboriginal heritage impact permit.