[WATCH] Nature Trust concerned by prospect of land reclamation

Nature Trust's Vince Attard warns that one slip up could trigger a domino effect which wipes out large communities of marine life 

Nature Trust President Vincent Attard
Nature Trust President Vincent Attard

Nature Trust President Vince Attard has expressed his concern at the potential ecological impact on the sea-bed of any land reclamation project off the coast of Malta.

Reports on Sunday revealed that the Environment and Resource Authority (ERA), through a site selection exercise, had identified an area between Xgħajra and St Julian’s as being feasible for such a project. This area includes waters off the coasts of Sliema, Valletta and Cottonera.

According to the ERA, this is the are with the highest potential for land reclamation, which means it will enjoy major support among the development lobby seeking new land for commercial expansion. 

The presentation also identifies other areas along the Maltese coast for small and medium sized reclamation projects. These include the Mgarr harbour in Gozo which has been in the past identified for a cruise liner terminal, Qalet Marku in Bahar ic-Caghaq, St Paul’s Bay, Marsaxlokk and an area offXghajra already utilized for the dumping of construction waste. 

Speaking to MaltaToday, Attard said that a mistake could easily lead to negative ecological effects on the area and its surroundings.  

“A blunder could have grave repercussions on the sea’s bio-diversity, which would in turn affect fishing as well as the quality of sea water,” he said. 

Attard also mentioned the possible impact on diving-tourism and tourism in general. 

“The lack of clean and healthy waters will have a ripple effect on tourism, which contributes to a large part of our economy,” Attard pointed out.

Moreover, he also linked the proposal for land reclamation to the lack of a proper construction waste management strategy. 

“Back in 2002, 80% of our waste was construction waste,” Attard said. “16 years down the line, we are yet to have a proper and environmentally friendly way of disposing such material.”

He insisted that Malta needed to ensure it had the necessary studies available that would allow it to embark on a “proper” waste management system once and for all.

Attard stressed that land reclamation should remain a last resort, insisting that the move was all part of “crisis management”. 

“I still have concerns over the decision, and I believe that a mistake could easily lead to both ecological and economic ramifications,” he insisted. 

READ ALSO: Portomaso also considered as potential land reclamation zone, ERA memo shows

READ ALSO: Xghajra selected for land reclamation, not Bahar ic-Caghaq

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