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Title: Environment impact assessment for the proposed beach replenishment project in Shangri-La’s Villigili Resort and Spa Maldives, Addu City
Authors: CDE Consulting
Keywords: Project description
Policy and legal framework
Existing environment
Impacts identification
Significant impacts and mitigation measures
Stakeholder consultations
Environmental management plan
Environmental monitoring plan
Potential data gaps and assessment limitations
Issue Date: Nov-2014
Citation: CDE Consulting. (2014). Environment impact assessment for the proposed beach replenishment project in Shangri-La’s Villigili Resort and Spa Maldives, Addu City. Male': Maldives
Abstract: The purpose of this document is to fulfil the requirements to get necessary environmental clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out the proposed Beach Replenishment Project in Shangri-La’s Villigili Resort and Spa Maldives (Villigili Island), Addu City. The proponent of this project is Shangri-La’s Villigili Resort and Spa Maldives. The main rationale for the project is to enhance the tourism product at Shangri-La’s Villigili Resort and Spa Maldives by replenishing the beach to provide a better product for the visiting guests. Villigili Island does not have a natural beach and a large section of the existing beach has been created artificially in 2009. It has been 5 years since the initial replenishment and some of these areas have now retreated due to natural causes. This project has been initiated to undertake maintenance beach replenishment. Hence, for or the island to continue operating, they will need artificial replenishment. This project involves a one off maintenance project by pumping additional sand to the eroded areas and ongoing cosmetic improvements to the beach for the next two years by placing small amounts of sand. The cosmetic improvements will be carried out on a need basis and only the areas experiencing erosion will be cleaned. A contractor will undertake the one off maintenance project while buying sand from the local sand miners will make the ongoing cosmetic improvements. Two areas have been proposed for replenishment totalling 7000 cbm. Replenishment height is 1.5 m and width is 10 m from the registered shoreline. The proposed borrow areas, as in 2009 project, will be the northern rim of Addu City, in Hulhumeedhoo Reef. A minimum of 5000 cbm and a maximum of 8000 cbm of sand it to be dredged using an excavator or a sand pump. The resulting material will be transported to Villigili in barges and unloaded directly to the beach using a loader. All replenishment operations will be undertaken in manner which avoids disturbance to guests. The reasons for choosing the Hulhumeedhoo site is the absence of beach quality sand in Villigili lagoon. Numerous attempts have been made to pump to sand during the construction stage with no success. All project activities will be in conformance to the laws and regulations of the Maldives, and relevant international conventions that Maldives is party to. The key laws and regulations applicable to this project are: Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation 2012, Dredging and Land reclamation Regulation 2013 and the Tourism Act. All the required permits prior to initiation of the work have already been attained from the respective regulatory bodies, namely mining approval from Addu City Council, concept approval from Ministry of Tourism and, dredging and reclamation approval from EPA. The existing environment is modified with replenishment, dredging and coastal developments. The borrow site is in within 2 km of Meedhoo Island. The benthic composition of the borrow site is dominated by sand and coral rubble, with few patches of individual coral colonies. Live corals observed at the survey area are very low and the abundance of fish was also low. However, the marine water quality parameters tested fall within the normal range for sea water. The erosional problems in Villigili are the result of manmade issues and natural causes. Erosion is set to continue in the near future but is manageable using soft adaptation measures. Coastal sediment movement patterns are restricted in Villigili due to a shore perpendicular structure (arrival pavilion) on the island. This structure was constructed to separate the replenished beach with the rest of the beach. Seasonal erosion is persistent on the areas adjacent to the main arrival pavilion and adjacent to the service jetty. The existing conditions on Ismahela Hera are poor. It does not have an adequate beach and beach composition is mainly rubble. The lagoon has a large seagrass bed and the island is eroding on the northern and southern side. The assessment shows that the proposed developments involve significant impacts on the marine environment and hydrodynamics due to dredging and beach replenishment. The main impacts from the project are on marine environment, particularly live coral cover damage during dredging and replenishment, both due to turbidity and sedimentation, and temporary loss of benthic organisms. The project also involves social impacts on Meedhoo Island sand miners and possibly to the atoll in general as sand is a limited resource in the atoll. Key mitigation measures for the construction stage include undertake construction works during calm weather conditions as much as possible particularly when wave activity is calmer. Carry out the activities in as short a time period as possible to allow normal conditions to re-establish in the area as soon as possible. Specific attention has been given to mitigate social impacts. These include allowing a quota of the project to be delivered by the local miners, dredging from relatively deeper areas which are not used for manual mining, using the smallest footprint possible for the project, locating the borrow site away from the islands and complete the works in the shortest time possible. Operational stage impacts are mainly limited to ongoing erosion which will require soft adaptation measures to maintain, including periodic cleaning up of eroded areas. Severe erosion of at least 30% of the replenished beach is anticipated during the initial phases after construction. However, this is expected as the new beach system tries to achieve equilibrium. No specific erosion prevention measures are proposed but appropriate action will be decided after monitoring the changes. The alternatives were evaluated for the project but the current designs and methods have been preferred as they are based on engineer’s guarantees and cost considerations. Alternative locations that were considered are Hulhumeedhoo harbour, Hulhudhoo harbour, Hithadhoo lagoon, Hithadhoo mining site, atoll lagoon and Huvadhoo atoll. All these options had practical, financial or social limitations which prevented their use. The only practical and viable solution in terms of the quality of sand, feasibility and practicality is the proposed Meedhoo lagoon. Alternative dredging methods considered included excavator mounted on a barge or a sand bed, sand pumping onto a barge, hopper suction dredger and manual mining. Among these a combination of excavator mounted on a barge or a sand bed and manual mining was preferred. A hopper suction dredger which could dredge from atoll lagoon of any atoll in the Maldives was not preferred due to costs as well as practicality for a small scale project. Monitoring of the project is crucial particularly the changes to hydrodynamics, shoreline, water quality, coral reef recovery and lagoon benthos recovery. Particular attention should be given to monitor the erosion patterns in Hulhumeedhoo reef, Ismahela Hera Island and Villigili Island. The management plan for this project is designed to produce a framework for anticipated impacts, including practicable and achievable performance requirements and systems for monitoring, reporting and implementing corrective actions. In addition provide evidence of compliance to legislation, policies, guidelines and requirements of relevant authorities. Consultations were carried out with the key stakeholders and public of Meedhoo and Hulhudhoo. Sand mining in Addu City has recently been a topic of debate owing to the limited mining sites in the Addu City and the lack of options to bring sand from other atolls. However, given that Shangri-La, at present, is the biggest economic asset of the City, most people agree that they should do everything possible to keep the property as a top destination in the Maldives. The group most likely to be directly affected are the sand miners. They have been consulted during the formulation of this project and the project components have been modified to meet their needs. These include mining from deeper areas which that cannot generally use for manual mining and to allocate quota of the project for manual mining methods. The City Council and the general public have been consulted and have the general blessing to move forward with the project. In conclusion, the project is beneficial to the tourism industry since the resort can be made operational with enhanced products. Shangri-La’s Villigili Resort and Spa Maldives does not have a natural beach and for the island to continue operating, they will need artificial replenishment. The property needs to be in the best condition and achieve high occupancy for the benefits to accrue to the Addu City population.
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