Mahalo to Melissa Moniz and Kai Ula for bringing this to attention:
Jan 22, 2016, 2:48pm HST
Since its permit was temporarily pulled by the Hawaii Supreme Court, the Thirty Meter Telescope team has yet to report its plan moving forward.
TMT International Observatory Executive Director Ed Stone, also a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, told PBN Friday that the construction delay since last April has cost the nonprofit millions of dollars.
The team behind the $1.4 billion telescope project planned for Mauna Kea has invested $170 million to date for construction and manufacturing, according to Stone.
“We spent eight years now getting the permit, and on Dec. 2 it was invalidated,” he said. “We went through the process, did everything we were asked to do, and it turned out that that was evidently not the right process, so now we’re waiting on what the process needs to be.”
The Hawaii Supreme Court decided last month that the TMT conservation district use permit was awarded improperly, and has sent the project back for a contested case hearing in front of the state land board.
“They [land board] has to tell us what we need to do,” he said. “It’s their process that had a problem for the court, so the court will instruct them and they’ll decide what they need to do this time that they didn’t last time. That’s what we need to know before we know we have a way forward.”
The University of Hawaii at Hilo, TMT’s landlord, will be the entity to secure the permit for TMT.
The TMT observatory is backed by Caltech, UC, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, and the national institutes of Japan, China, and India.
“I think all of the partners are concerned because we don’t have a plan right now and we don’t know what it will take to do this job,” he added. “Only if we have a plan we’ll feel we’re on the right track.”