13 new marinas chosen

St Julian's, St Paul's Bay proposals shelved

The location of the proposed new marinas at Kalkara and Menqa.

The location of the proposed new marinas at Kalkara and Menqa.

More than 1,100 additional yachting berths are set to be created under a Malta Maritime Authority proposal to build 13 permanent and temporary marinas.

The government plans to forge ahead with new permanent marinas at Sa Maison, Ta' Xbiex and Menqa, while proposals for new berths in St Julian's and the Veċċja area of St Paul's Bay have been shelved following a series of objections because of their proximity to swimmers' zones.

"With these new marinas we should solve the problem of demand for the next 10 years," Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt told The Sunday Times.

The decision was taken following the publication of a consultation document.

The document underlined the environmental constraints against major interventions at depths of less than 20 metres and significant cost constraints on interventions at depths of more than 20 metres. Therefore, the locations identified for permanent marinas were those within existing harbours.

"We looked at all bays and coves in Malta which could cater for environmentally-friendly marinas, which didn't depend on speculation," Dr Gatt said. There are currently six main yacht marinas in Malta, three of which are managed by the Malta Maritime Authority (Msida, Ta' Xbiex and Gozo), while the other three are privately run (Manoel Island, Portomaso and Grand Harbour).

Dr Gatt said the authority selected the sites after taking into consideration several technical aspects, including projected capital costs.

At Sa Maison, the MMA will carry out an environment impact assessment to obtain a full development permit for the marina and necessary breakwater.

The planning process is expected to be concluded by September 2010.

For Ta' Xbiex/Manoel Island the authority will issue a request for proposals for the privatisation of the marina once the development of the breakwater is completed.

At the Menqa industrial site, the authority is in the process of assessing alternative options with respect to the relocation of the petroleum berth at Flagstone Wharf. Once this berth is relocated, the wharf will be developed into a yacht marina.

The MMA is proposing the following sites for temporary marinas: Mġarr (Gozo); Ċirkewwa; Marfa (ex-Gozo ferry quay); Qawra (East side); Ta' Xbiex (next to Royal Malta Yacht Club); Ta' Xbiex (between Gżira Gardens and the waterpolo club; Kalkara (between Villa Bighi and Villa Portelli); Marsascala (Żonqor point) and Birżebbuġa (San Ġorġ).

Sa Maison will initially be a temporary area, pending the development of a permanent marina. There are also plans to transfer the Gozo ferry berth to Grand Harbour while the Armed Forces maritime squadron will be incorporated within the marina.

The government needed to increase the yachting facilities available throughout the year because of rising demand in what is becoming an increasingly lucrative business. More than 17,900 boats are listed on the Small Ships Register.

Applications will soon be submitted to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to ensure that the winning bidders do not face planning obstacles. The government intends the temporary marinas to be up and running by next summer.

Sa Maison: 310 berths
Ta' Xbiex: 100 additional berths
Manoel Island (South side): 280 additional berths
Menqa: 170 berths
Total number of berths: 860

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