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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed development of a harbor : Nellaidhoo, Haa Dhaal Atoll, Maldives
Authors: Sandcays
Keywords: Existing environment
Stakeholder consultations
Impacts and mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring
Issue Date: Mar-2011
Citation: Sandcays. (2011). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed development of a harbor : Nellaidhoo, Haa Dhaal Atoll, Maldives. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report addresses the environmental concerns of the proposed harbour development in Nellaidhoo, Haa Dhaal Atoll. The primary objective of the project is to provide safe and adequate access to the island. As such the project encompasses dredging of a channel and harbour basin, construction of quay wall and breakwaters and the reclamation of areas to the north and south of the harbour basin and part of boat beaching area on the northern end of the proposed harbour. The proposed harbour is about 150ft x 400ft and is located on the eastern side of the island. However, the island community wishes to increase the width to 200ft and this has been proposed as an alternative to the project. Since there is a dredged channel and access area clearing already being used in the area adjacent to the proposed harbour location, it was decided that this proposed location would be better suited based on recommendations of the Harbour Committee as well as other key members who met the Proponent. It would also allow changes to the size of the harbour, which is one of the main requirements of the community. However, in order to achieve the required width of 200ft for the harbour it would be possible if the quay wall is set on the existing beach line as the reef flat is relatively small. It was also believed that the proposed location has already been subject to the impacts of dredging and therefore, further cumulative impacts to this area would be preferable to impacts on new areas in their natural state. Furthermore, it was observed from the environmental surveys that the reef was relatively dormant at the proposed location where previous dredging had occurred in the vicinity. The live coral in this area, close to the entrance channel, represents 23% compared to 55% on the west and 53% on the north-northwest side of the island. Based on this finding it is believed that this area can be considered for the proposed harbour on the assumption that damage has already occurred to the environment in this area. The main reason for the proposed harbour to be located in this location is for the reason that the harbour can be safely used in most part of the year even though considerable size swell waves occur in this proposed location. In addition, the location has its merits of being in an area already used by the community and its close proximity to the residential areas. This area is regarded as the face of the island. Yet, this area is also the lee of the island during the southwest monsoon with sand accumulating in the area. Therefore, a harbour here will have to be carefully designed to minimize any salient formation that would cause erosion around the island. This has been evident in the recent years following the dredging of the channel here with sand from elsewhere being deposited in the channel area. To combat such severe erosion and loss of beach from such a beautiful island, it would be necessary to think of an alternative location that would have less impact on the sand transport around the island. That would be the the south-southeast side of the island. Given that the south side would be generally calmer than the north side, the south-southeast side of the island was considered to be the ideal location to address this issue. Some elderly respondents from the island also felt that the alternative south-southeast location would be better than the proposed location to address erosion issues and for providing access in a cost-effective manner. Environmental Protection Agency also identified in the scoping meeting that the southeast would generally be the most favourable location for a harbour. However, in the case of Nellaidhoo, damage has already occurred to reef in the previously dredged channel area. Therefore, location has to be carefully chosen after evaluating the socioeconomic, cultural and environmental impacts of the project. It was identified from the environmental surveys that the reef in the south-southeast area is relatively inactive compared to rest of the reef around the island. Hence, this will be the location with minimum impact to reef. The overall environmental impacts of the project have been assessed using appropriate matrices and the results indicated that the proposed project had net positive impact. Given that the project has major socio-economic benefits although there would be some negative environmental impacts, it is recommended to allow the project to proceed as proposed. However, alternative analysis indicates that there is a strong argument for protecting the beaches and minimizing impact on the littoral transport regime. Therefore, the reclaimed sides of the harbour north and south in the proposed layout needs to have protection structures to minimize erosion behind the qauywall side walls. This design is considered to be suitable for both the proposed and the recommended alternative locations, which are the eastern side and south-south-eastern side respectively. Environmental monitoring recommended for the project includes the monitoring of the shorelines of Nellaidhoo, water quality and drogue studies of the coastal area for at least two years from the onset of the proposed project implementation. Monitoring is also expected to cover public views and grievances about the project culture and harbour management information such as nos. of vessels that use the harbour. Annual monitoring reports have to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency over the monitoring period.
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