TMT Board Defers Site Decision
The TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board of Governors at its meeting this week in April 2018 deferred a decision on whether to continue towards building the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawai‘i or to consider the alternative in the Canary Islands.
A decision will be made on the planned location of the Thirty Meter Telescope as further progress is made in the legal and regulatory processes at both proposed sites.
“We continue to assess the ongoing situation as we work toward a decision,” said Ed Stone, executive director of the TIO.
In Hawai‘i, there are two appeals before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. The Hawai‘i State land board, also known as the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources, voted last fall to reissue a Conservation District Use Permit that would allow construction of the telescope on Maunakea. The matter has been appealed before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and legal briefs have been filed in that case.
Oral arguments for the other court appeal, involving a consent to sublease, were held before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in March.
“TMT is grateful that the legal process is moving forward in Hawaii and we remain hopeful of court decisions that will allow us to resume construction on Maunakea,” said TIO Board Chair Henry Yang. “We remain respectful of and will continue to follow the legal and regulatory processes.”
The environmental and permitting process required to build in the Canary Islands, at the La Palma site, is continuing. The environmental impact assessment for the project has been submitted to the relevant authorities and, once the document is accepted, permits for construction and other clearances will be applied for.
“While Maunakea remains our preferred choice,” Stone said, “we continue to work closely with planning officials at our alternative site in the Canary Islands.”
Significant fabrication of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s infrastructure and components continues off-site by the participating partners in the project.
“With work progressing around the partnership, we are ready to initiate on-site construction,” Stone added.
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project has been developed as collaboration among Caltech, the University of California (UC), the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), and the national institutes of Japan, China, and India with the goal to design, develop, construct, and operate a thirty-meter class telescope and observatory on Maunakea in cooperation with the University of Hawaii (TMT Project). The TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO), a non-profit organization, was established in May 2014 to carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT Project. The Members of TIO are Caltech, UC, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada); the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.
For more information about the TMT project, visit www.tmt.org.