Ben Magec Press Release TMT August 2019
News Release from Ben Magec - Ecologistas en Acción, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain, August 5, 2019
"Ben Magec - Ecologistas en Acción", the federation of environmental associations of the Canary Islands, wants to show its solidarity and empathy with the social movement that protects Mauna Kea, and we express our respect for the Kahunas. Their determination inspires us.
We can understand what is happening in Hawaii concerning the TMT. On the small island of La Palma, with a similar surface area as the island of Moloka’i, the development of astronomical infrastructures has been done without respect for the people and for the natural and cultural values. It has cost us a notable part of our nature and we have lost archaeological sites that were very important for the understanding of the culture of our aboriginal ancestors.
Garafía, the municipality with already 14 telescopes and 20 more projected, is however the poorest municipality in the Canary Islands. They have never received a financial compensation for the use of their land. That is why the struggle for dignity that is being fought in Hawaii is not strange to us.
The Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) claims to have a backup site on the Canary Island of La Palma, an argument used to put pressure on the Hawaiian authorities, but that has now turned against them when used by TMT opponents. It has been assumed that the supposed arrival of the TMT on the Canary Islands will not be hindered by administrative or judicial procedures and that the people and local organizations will not oppose it. However, here the feeling is growing that our mountain has already exceeded the capacity to house more telescopes and that we have already paid a high price for astronomical science. We are strongly opposing a project that will have a very negative impact on a unique natural area of high value that is part of the European Natura 2000 network, one of the world's largest networks of protected natural areas.
Actually, the “Plan B” for the TMT is not a very solid plan at all. The only thing TIO had achieved so far on La Palma is a 75-year concession of 9.8 hectares of land for the construction of the TMT for the ridiculous amount of approximately $1,250 annually. But Ben Magec Federation took legal action against this concession and a judge of the Superior Court of the Canary Islands recently has revoked this concession because of violations of European environmental laws and a wrong estimation of the value of the concession. This means they will have to start the procedure from the beginning, causing a substantial delay.
If they insist in getting authorisation to build the TMT in this legally protected area on La Palma, each step will lead to additional legal action on our part. We will not hesitate to take it to the Supreme Court of Spain because we are convinced that, in relation to the TMT, public administrations are making decisions that are in conflict with Spanish and European Laws. We have no less reason or less determination than the Hawaiian TMT opponents.
HNN: Environmentalists in Canary Islands: We’ll seek legal action to stop TMT from coming here