Plans for new Blue Lagoon pier precede Comino masterplan

The new infrastructure will be constructed in the panoramic rocky area between Comino and the Kemmunet islet outside the swimming zone

Photos released by the MTA show a much less crowded Blue Lagoon
Photos released by the MTA show a much less crowded Blue Lagoon

The Gozo Ministry has submitted an application for the construction of a 660sq.m pier which will serve as an extension to a smaller jetty, and the reconstruction of 915sq.m of an existing road leading to the same pier.

The new infrastructure will be constructed in the panoramic rocky area between Comino and the Kemmunet islet outside the swimming zone.

The plans are designed by Doric Studio, the same company entrusted with preparing a masterplan for Comino which has still to be approved and is still being discussed with the Environment and Resources Authority. The project title given to the plans was the ‘Blue Lagoon Regeneration Project’.

But a Gozo Ministry spokesperson insists that the latest application is “not related to the plan being discussed with ERA.”

This contrasts with a statement made by Environment Minister Jose Herrera in May who claimed that “the Comino master plan focused on berthing arrangements at the Blue Lagoon and did not envision new development”.

The Gozo Ministry confirmed that it has embarked into an extensive exercise “to assess the challenges at the Blue Lagoon and prepared a plan to address these challenges.”

The plan first announced by minister Justyne Caruana in May, has been submitted to the inter-ministerial committee where discussions are currently underway with ERA.

 The new infrastructure will be constructed in the panoramic rocky area between Comino and the Kemmunet islet outside the swimming zone.
The new infrastructure will be constructed in the panoramic rocky area between Comino and the Kemmunet islet outside the swimming zone.

So why were the new plans submitted before the approval of the Comino masterplan?

The ministry claims that the urgency to present the application was dictated by the fact that there is “an imminent danger and risk that the road collapses”.

MaltaToday also asked the ministry to explain the motives and benefits of constructing a pier in the ecologically sensitive area but no answer was forthcoming.

In May, environment minister Josè Herrera had claimed that the Comino masterplan was aimed to modernise berthing arrangements at the Blue Lagoon in an eco-friendly manner, including new restrictions on anchoring to safeguard the marine environment.

In its first reaction to the plans, Transport Malta has asked for more details about the number of berths. Questions by MaltaToday on the number of berthing spaces remained unanswered.

Plans show that the new pier will consist of steel deck beams erected on supporting pillars which indicates that the infrastructure will be of a permanent nature.

As a Natura 2000 site, Comino is subject to a management plan published in 2015.

The plan calls for the urgent implementation of a carrying capacity assessment for the Blue Lagoon, including seasonal variability of number of tourists, landings of tourists by ferries, entrance fee options, zoning and patrolling.

It also lays down that tourism at the Blue Lagoon and elsewhere should be “practised in harmony with the site’s conservation needs”.

The local plan approved in 2006 had earmarked San Niklaw and the Blue Lagoon bay areas as a possible site for a “destination port”. In 2010, the PA approved an application by Transport Malta to erect a small demountable jetty at the Blue Lagoon on the footprint of the dilapidated part of an existing quay.

Back in 2006 the planning authority had already refused an application for a fixed permanent structure in the same location because of its visual and ecological impact. It said that “further human intervention, particularly in the form proposed, is not desirable” and that the proposal would adversely affect the area, hinder its protection, and run counter to the rural conservation and ecological objectives of the Structure Plan.

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