Studies assessing the feasibility of artificial islands, an idea touted by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi four years ago, have finally been reviewed by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority and “are in the process of being presented to government” a MEPA spokesperson confirmed.
The MEPA spokesperson refused to divulge any details on the results of these studies.
MEPA has already spent €403,000 on studies to assess the feasibility of the artificial islands, first proposed back in June 2005 on the same day Gonzi put forward his plans for a golf course at Xaghra l-Hamra. The studies, carried out by ADI Associates and British experts Scott Wilson, surveyed two sites off the coast at Maghtab, and another to the southeast. The areas were surveyed on the effects of waves, currents and dispersal of sediments, as well as the technical, economic and environmental constraints of land reclamation.
A marine survey conducted as part of a report on the feasibility of land reclamation surfaced last year as an annex to an Environment. The scuba diving survey, conducted by British experts Scott Wilson revealed that a substantial part of the seabed in deep waters between Xghajra and the Marsaskala bay is already covered by demolition and construction waste. Land reclamation in the form of artificial islands, was also proposed again in the newly proposed Waste Management Strategy – this time as embellishment for beaches.
The construction of an ‘engineered containment structure’ to protect the marine environment is the costliest part of land reclamation. Such structures range from €34,000 to €124,200 per metre. Reclamation for development purposes is even more expensive.