Comino pier will destroy iconic Blue Lagoon, watchdogs warn

The Planning Authority’s cultural heritage advisory committee said the proposed extension of the mooring platforms to a 133-metre long platform 'will completely destroy the natural foreshore of the picturesque blue Lagoon'

The  133-metre long platform “will completely destroy the natural foreshore of the picturesque blue Lagoon”, two heritage watchdogs have told the PA
The 133-metre long platform “will completely destroy the natural foreshore of the picturesque blue Lagoon”, two heritage watchdogs have told the PA

A gigantic pier to be installed by the Gozo Ministry on the Blue Lagoon foreshore has been blasted as a threat to the iconic landscape of the Comino bay by two heritage watchdogs.

The Planning Authority’s cultural heritage advisory committee said the proposed extension of the mooring platforms to a 133-metre long platform “will completely destroy the natural foreshore of the picturesque blue Lagoon.”

The 12-member panel, which is composed of various luminaries in the legal, architectural and the artistic spheres and chaired by Joe Magro Conti, also advises the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage on planning applications.

On its part, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage told the project’s architects to remove the extended pier from their plans after noting that this will “inevitably impact negatively on views of the area” which it described as an “iconic landscape”.

The Environment and Resources Authority has also reiterated its objections to the plan, requesting that the proposal is redesigned with a more minimalistic approach which retains a more natural character.

The Gozo Ministry had submitted the application for the construction of a 660sq.m pier and the reconstruction of 915sq.m of an existing road leading to the same pier, a year ago.

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.

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 numbers 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 PA had already refused a fixed permanent structure in the same location because of its visual and ecological impact. It said “further human intervention, particularly in the form proposed, is not desirable”, and that the proposal would hinder its protection and run counter to the rural conservation and ecological objectives of the Structure Plan.

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