Spanish judge knocks backup site for controversial telescope

A Spanish court ruling has blocked an alternative plan to build a large telescope in the Canary Islands instead of a preferred location in Hawaii, where it faces opposition from local Hawaiians.

MADRID – A Spanish judge has halted backup plans to build a large telescope in the Canary Islands in a decision hailed by environmentalists – at least for now eliminating the basic alternative location in a preferred location in Hawaii, where Protests were held against the binoculars.

Opponents have blocked the construction of a 30-meter telescope, or TMT, on Hawaii’s highest mountain, Mona Kei, saying the plan would desecrate the holy land for some locals.

The telescope officials chose an alternative location near the existing scientific research facility on the highest mountain in La Palma, one of the Spanish islands off the west African coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

But an administrative court in the Spanish island capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, ruled last month that the 2017 concession of local public land authorities for a temporary project was invalid. The verdict was handed down on July 29, but became public this week after local media reported the verdict.

In a ruling obtained by the Associated Press, Judge Roy Lopez Enkinas wrote that an agreement had been reached between the Canary Astrophysics Institute, or IAC, and the telescope promoter, TMT International Observatory Consortium, to distribute the telescopic land. Is subject to

But the judge ruled that the agreement was not valid because the TIO did not intend to build on the La Palma site instead of the airport.

The judge rejected the arguments of the TIO legal team and the island government, and agreed with the plaintiff, environmental group Ben Magec-Ecologistas en Acción, that the land exemption was under an international agreement on scientific research.

A Canary Islands High Court official said questions about the decision could not be answered because other court officials in the position to answer questions were on leave. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to appear in media reports.

Mariano Zapata, head of the island’s local elected government, said it was “regrettable” that advocacy groups were “in control of administrative matters rather than environmental issues.”

“I wish we were all in the same boat with the intention of creating jobs on La Palma Island so that it could become an international reference for scientific research,” Zapata said. His government estimated last year that the telescope would create 500 permanent jobs and an investment of at least 400 million euros (0 470 million).

Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the consortium, which hopes to build the telescope, said the consortium intends to appeal the decision.

“While we respect the court’s decision in La Palma, we will take legal action to maintain La Palma as our alternative site. Hawaii is our preferred location for TMT and we have Has renewed its efforts to better communicate meaningfully and appropriately.

Pablo Batista, a spokesman for the Ben Magic-ecologists An Action Group, called the decision a “big blow” to what he called a “fraudulent” plan and said he had made “false promises” of new jobs for the island. “They have done it.

“The whole idea of ​​offering the island as a backup was nothing more than a strategy to put pressure on air projects,” Batista said.

In a statement, the group also said that “the five years the TIO consortium has wasted on La Palma should reflect the arrogance and disrespectful tactics they have pursued in the Hawaiian and Canary Islands, which Encourages institutional cooperation and despises arguments against TMT.


Associated Press author Audrey McAvoy contributed to the Honolulu report.


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