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Għadira kiosks might have to be removed for sand dunes to recover

Road would eventually be raised onto stilts to reconnect dunes and bay

Photo: Google Maps

Photo: Google Maps

Kiosks and other concessions at Għadira might have to be removed or shifted in order for the sand dunes to recover, according to a 230-page study on a planned extension to Malta’s most popular beach.

The comprehensive project being planned by the government envisages that the present road would be replaced by a three-lane dual carriage road on stilts, which would allow the sand dunes to replenish.

The project would be done in phases over several years, and according to the project description seeks “to re-dress the sand dune habitat degradation together with the moving inland of the shoreline and the consequent loss in sandy beach area which took place when Triq il-Qammieħ was being constructed in the latter part of the 1900s”.

In the 1960s, the shoreline was some 25 metres further out to sea than its present-day position.

Stakeholders are being consulted about the planned extension of Għadira Bay, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said in parliament on Monday. The stakeholders include the Mellieħa Council as well as the Maltese representatives of Blue Flag International.

He was reassuring MP Robert Cutajar, who asked in a parliamentary question about whether an environmental impact assessment was being done.

The minister said a range of studies were being carried out, including a so-called ‘appropriate assessment’, a maritime assessment under the remit of the Environment and Resource Authority, and evaluations of the current and their impact on the bay at on the nearby breakwater.

Plans to extend the beach were submitted by Projects Malta, and use a combination of sand replenishment – dredged from the bay itself – and the construction of a barrier to deflect waves.

The plans drawn up by architectural firm Environmental Management Design Planning (EMDP) include a 20m new jetty near the Tunny Net complex.

THE PROJECT IN FIGURES

Phase 1 Planned to be completed before summer 2018, this would extend the sandy beach by 1 km in length and an average width of over 20m, also making it deeper. Sand would be dredged from the bay itself. A wave deflector would be built to partially protect the newly-replenished sandy beach;

The proposed site covers a total area of approximately 270,000m². This includes the proposed extension seawards of approximately 38,000m² to the existing beach.

The total volume of sand that would be needed ranges from a minimum of 35,000m³ for a 20m beach extension to a maximum of 101,000m³ for a 40m beach extension.

In Phase 2, submerged wave deflectors would be constructed to act as artificial reefs and encourage inland sand dune migration, ensuring sand retention even during sever storm conditions. Phase 2 will be implemented over a two year period.

Phase 3 involves raising the current road onto stilts, creating an elevated three-lane dual carriageway, intended at encouraging inland sand dune migration. This might involved the removal or shifting of some of the concessions. Phase 3 of the project is expected to take place within the following five years, “depending on the availability of funds and government priorities”.

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