By Alexandra Witze
Hawaii’s board of land and natural resources granted a fresh construction permit to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on 28 September, reviving the fortunes of the US$1.4-billion observatory — at least temporarily.
The permit moves the international project closer towards restarting construction near the summit of the Hawaiian mountain of Mauna Kea. Some Native Hawaiians oppose the TMT, saying that its construction would further violate a sacred mountain that is already home to multiple telescopes.
The board’s decision effectively puts the TMT project back where it was before protestors halted the telescope’s construction in April 2015, just days after it had begun, by blocking the road up Mauna Kea. That December, following months of challenges, Hawaii’s supreme court invalidated the telescope’s first construction permit. The court ruled that the state land board had not followed appropriate procedures because it had approved the first permit, in 2011, before it held a set of public hearings on the case.
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