Tuesday, 16 February 2021, 07:55
Last update: about 4 minutes ago
The sand replenishment project for Ghadira Bay is still on the cards and studies are ongoing.
The project, first announced in 2018, aims for sand to be distributed in order to create a seaward extension of a sandy beach by a further 20 m to 40 m.
Answering questions sent by The Malta Independent, a spokesperson for Projects Plus said: “Projects Plus Ltd is preparing a pilot project as part of the studies requested by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA). Once the pilot project concludes, the rest of the project will be drawn up, through which the amount of sand will considerably increase so that this beach will return to the original state that was lost over time.”
News on the project has been quiet for a number of years.
The last update on the Planning Authority’s website for this application was in May 2018, when the ERA had filed a comment, stating that the application is currently subject to an Appropriate Assessment and to a Marine Environment Study.
According to the ERA’s website, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is required, and the status reads ‘awaiting EIA’.
The EIA’s screening report which was published in June 2018, which decided that an EIA is required, notes that the full project involves the following interventions: Phase 1 – sand replenishment using suction dredging and the construction of a wave deflector intended to partially protect the replenished sandy beach; Phase 2 – The construction of submerged wave deflectors intended to encourage inland sand dune migration, whilst ensuring sand retention even during severe storm conditions; Phase 3 – The construction of an elevated three-lane dual carriageway to replace Triq il-Qammieh, intended to encourage inland sand dune migration. The proposal being considered, however, does not deal with the third phase.
“The current proposal will extend the sandy beach shoreline over the entire length (1000 m) of the beach with a varying width of approximately 30m, therefore increasing the landwards sandy beach area by approximately 30,000 to 38,000 m2. The required volume of sediment (80,000 m3), for the beach replenishment, will be dredged from within a proposed delineated area, whereby exclusion zones have been determined not to adversely affect the present protected habitats, designated through the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations. Subsequently, the dredged material will be deposited in sand pits for settlement, whereafter it will be levelled and distributed in order to create a seaward extension of the sandy beach,” the screening report by ERA reads.
“To combat erosive forces in the southernmost part of the bay, which is prone to high wave action, a wave deflector, with a length of more than 20 m, will be constructed to dissipate or reflect incoming wave energy.”
It also read that following the replenishment of the sandy beach, a submerged wave deflector (toe) will be constructed along the entire length of the bay, along the -1.5 m depth line, and would take up seabed surface area up to 20,000 m2 , given that the submerged toe will require a width of 15 to 20 m. “Such submerged toe will be constructed by placing one to two tonne boulders on the seabed, to dissipate incoming wave and current energy around the entire sandy beach… To further combat with alongshore sediment drift (with a south-to-north direction), the placement of groynes is being proposed, which will be built up of loosely placed boulders perpendicular to the beach linking the current rocky seashore to the submerged toe,” the screening report adds.
“The construction of this complex of groynes, submerged toe and wave deflector aims at combatting erosive forces, promoting accretion of the sandy beach, and subsequently promoting inward sand migration”
The EIA report will need to assess a number of aspects, including the implications of the proposed interventions on the overall physical characteristics and natural dynamics of the beach and coastal area and the potential disturbance in ecosystem species composition, potential long-term alterations to the beach dynamics and wave and current patterns, which in its turn may affect the whole bay ecosystem, among others.