TMT, Canary Islands reach land agreement

HILO — A governmental body in the Canary Islands has approved a land concession deal with the Thirty Meter Telescope partners, although Maunakea remains the project’s preferred location.

According to a Tuesday report from Spanish news agency Europa Press, the City Council of Puntagorda — a municipality on the north end of the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands — has approved a “work permit” that would allow TMT to build in La Palma if the TMT partners so choose.

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TMT Vice President Gordon Squires confirmed to the Tribune-Herald that a land concession deal was reached between TMT and Puntagorda, but added that more permits and approvals are required before any construction could begin.

The Europa Press report claimed that TMT would make a decision on where to build in “in the next few days,” and that Canary Islands construction would begin no later than Jan. 30, 2023.

However, Squires said TMT has no current plans to announce a decision on where to build.

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“We are very pleased and grateful that certain permits have been granted in La Palma,” Squires wrote in a statement. “Maunakea remains the preferred site for TMT, but this is an essential step in the process for developing our ‘plan B’, should it not be possible to build TMT in Hawaii. At this moment, there is no date set for determining our next steps for constructing TMT.”

With protests against building TMT on Maunakea having gone on for more than four months, many have urged TMT to seek an alternate site to build the telescope, such as La Palma.

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