The Hawaii Supreme Court voids the TMT construction permit

December 3, 2015

The Hawaii Supreme Court voids the TMT construction permit:

The Court writes:

“We therefore vacate the judgment of the circuit court and the permit issued by the Board, and remand so that a contested case hearing can be conducted before the Board or a new hearing officer, or for other proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The TMT Board will soon issue a simple response. It will take a while to figure out exactly what this means in terms of delay and risk that the permit cannot be reacquired. What matters is to ensure that the various funding pledges remain secure and that all partners act together, including their astronomy communities.

The construction permit that the State of Hawaii granted to the University of Hawaii to allow TMT construction has been invalidated.  The State of Hawaii needs to put in place a robust new procedure to deal with such applications before TMT can decide whether to reapply. The court did not rule on the substance of the appeal by a coalition of native Hawaiians, which related to whether TMT was an appropriate use of the land, but only on the procedure that led to the granting of a permit. TMT continues to hold a sub-lease on the site, which is a business arrangement between TMT and the University of Hawaii.

The decision to allow TMT a permit for construction is entirely a Hawaiian decision, for which TMT would like a clear yes or no in a timely way and one that enjoys broad support for TMT.

Legal experts are looking at the situation and proposing a range of scenarios.  In each case there will be an estimate of schedule, cost and risk that the scenario will fail. TMT is likely to favor scenarios that can get construction fully underway within a year or less, with uncomplicated access to the site. TMT will make announcements as firm decisions are made.


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