TENSIONS are rising between Karoo sheep farmers and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) SA project, over its plans to buy 118,000ha of land to protect the telescope from interference.This week, it emerged most of the affected farmers are unwilling to even allow the project’s appraiser access to their farms to assess the value of the properties, a development that appears to have caught the SKA SA team on the back foot."We knew the negotiations would be blood, sweat and tears, but we didn’t anticipate resistance at the valuation stage," said Alice Pienaar-Marais, SKA SA land-acquisition programme manager.The SKA is an international science project located in SA and Australia, and will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope once completed. After the design of the first phase of the telescope was completed last year, scientists mapped out the size and shape of the land required to protect it from radio frequency interference.About 131,500ha (1,315km²) of land surrounding the telesco...

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