State issues notice to proceed for Thirty Meter Telescope project
Leaders emphasize stewardship, safety and security during construction
Gov. David Ige announced that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) issued a notice to proceed (NTP) to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island. The permit was issued after DLNR confirmed the completion of the pre-construction conditions and mitigation measures required of the project in the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP). The appropriate agencies will work with the TMT representatives to determine the start date.
The next generation telescope will be constructed on UH-managed lands located in the conservation district regulated by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). The university granted TMT a sublease and the BLNR issued a CDUP to construct and operate the telescope. The CDUP was upheld by the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court in an October 2018 ruling.
So that construction of the telescope can begin safely, four unauthorized structures were removed from Maunakea earlier this morning by multiple state agencies. The structures were on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property on Maunakea Access Road near the Daniel K. Inouye Highway intersection, on Department of Land and Natural Resources property near the mid-level facilities on Maunakea Access Road at the 9,000-foot elevation and on the TMT site on the summit of the mountain.
The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruled that the two ahu on the TMT site did not constitute a traditional or customary right or practice, and they were removed with guidance from Native Hawaiian cultural advisors.
David Y. Ige, Governor, State of Hawaiʻi:
“We will proceed in a way that respects the people, place and culture that make Hawaiʻi unique. I will continue to work with the University of Hawaiʻi and all our partners to make meaningful changes that further contribute to the co-existence of culture and science on Maunakea.”
Suzanne Case, Chair, Board of Land and Natural Resources
“My staff and I have carefully reviewed the TMT project plans to ensure they are aligned with the permit approved by the board and upheld by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court. The project has met all pre-construction requirements under the Conservation District Use Permit. As this project moves forward, I ask everyone who goes to Maunakea to respect this unique place and its fragile natural and cultural resources.”
Clare Connors, Attorney General, State of Hawaiʻi
“The notice to proceed with construction gives project managers, workers and others from our community authorization to begin work on the telescope. They will need safe access to the work site and safe conditions under which to work. The state will work to ensure their safety as well as the right of individuals to engage in speech about the project.”
David Lassner, President, University of Hawai‘i
“This notice to proceed is an important milestone in what has been a decade-long public and consultative process through which every requirement in statute, policy and procedure has now been met. We firmly believe in the benefits of the most advanced telescope in the world on the most magnificent and awe-inspiring mountain in the world. We also accept the increased responsibilities for the stewardship of Maunakea, including the requirement that as this very last site is developed for astronomy on the mauna, five current telescopes will be decommissioned and their sites restored.”
Link to notice to proceed here.
Link to news conference video here.
Link to photos here.