Home / News / World /  Crews remove equipment from Thirty Meter Telescope site in Hawaii

Los Angeles: Construction crews for what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes have removed equipment from the dormant volcano in Hawaii where it was set to be built after the state Supreme Court revoked its permit, project officials said on Wednesday.

The move by TMT International Observatory signals the project faces a potentially significant delay if the team behind it ever applies to state officials for a new permit to build at the Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Astronomers consider the volcano one of the world’s best places to view the cosmos, and planned to use it as the site of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which project officials said would have a primary mirror spanning 30 metres and rank as the most powerful optical telescope on the planet.

But Native Hawaiians and environmentalists oppose the project, saying it would damage sacred lands. Protesters have repeatedly tried to block construction at the site this year.

The Hawaii Supreme Court found on 2 December that the permit for the project issued by state officials in 2013 was invalid because at that time, a public hearing to air objections to the plan had not been held.

“We respect the Hawaii Supreme Court decision and, as good neighbours and stewards of the mountain, TMT has begun relocating construction vehicles and equipment from Maunakea," Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory board of governors, said in a statement.

Officials with TMT are assessing which steps they will take following the court ruling, said Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the project. Partners in the $1.4 billion project include scientists from Japan, Canada, India, China and the California Institute of Technology. Reuters

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