Tax-Xama to double in size with beach nourishment

Tax-Xama beach at St Paul’s Bay is set for a beach nourishment project by the Malta Tourism Authority

The tiny, sandy Tax-Xama beach tucked by the Tal-Għażżelin headland at St Paul’s Bay is set for a beach nourishment project by the Malta Tourism Authority.

The temporary extension follows those of Balluta Bay, Għar l-Aħmar in Marsaxlokk, Marsaskala’s il-Fajtata, and Birżebbugia’s San Ġorġ. All but the Balluta beach survived the last two years; the St Julian’s beach had to be re-nourished following a storm in 2019.

The Tax-Xama beach, with an area of 100sq.m, will be extended by five metres towards the sea, increasing in area to some 250sq.m.

The small beach is popular with residents and sailing club members, being sheltered from the prevailing winds due to a slipway and some offshore shoals.

The sand will be siphoned from sandy areas located further offshore, and transported through pipes directly to the beach.

The MTA’s preliminary study suggests the extended beach will not be permanent and indeed will be slowly eroded by waves and currents within months.

Researchers ADI Consultants sounded a cautionary note: “It important that such a project by carefully explained to the

public and the media to make it clear that it is aimed at providing a temporarily enlarged beach for the summer months, and that the beach is expected to disappear over a period of time unless the re-nourishment exercise is repeated in subsequent years.”

In February 2019, gale force winds and a storm obliterated the additional sand at Balluta, the first beach to be nourished back in 2018. The experience gained in this case proved useful for replicating it in other localities. Il-Fajtata beach was also the site of a turtle nesting in the summer of 2020.

The ADI report also reveals that a major beach replenishment project in Xemxija bay first proposed in 2012 for which an Environment Impact Assessment was finalised last year is currently on hold “in view of other proposals by government for the same location”. The MTA is instead focused on smaller bays that do not require major interventions, identified in a 2019 coastal survey by ADI.