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Title: Environment impact assessment for the proposed tourist guest house development project in Huraa Island, Kaafu Atoll
Authors: CDE Consulting
Keywords: Guest house development project
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Existing physical environment
Existing natural and biological environment
Existing socio-economic environment
Constructional impacts
Operational impacts
Socio-economic impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental management plan
Environmental monitoring plan
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Jun-2014
Citation: CDE Consulting. (2014). Environment impact assessment for the proposed tourist guest house development project in Huraa Island, Kaafu Atoll. Male': Maldives
Abstract: The purpose of this document is to fulfil the requirements to get necessary environmental clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the proposed guest house development project in Huraa Island, Male’ Atoll. The proposed site is the northern end or Thundi area of the Huraa Island. The proponent acquired the right to develop the guest house after in open bidding initiated by the Huraa Island Council. The proponent of this project is Pearl Sands of Maldives Pvt Ltd, which was registered specifically to develop the guesthouse business in Huraa. The main rationale for the project is to develop guesthouse tourism in the Maldives to increase the tourism bed capacity and their contribution to the local and national economic growth. The purpose of the project from the Council’s perspective is to increase the revenue of the Council and to provide direct benefits of tourism to the community. The island currently has a number of guest houses but servicing mainly locals. The project broadly involves the development and operation of 25 room guest house. The proposed project covers four main components: construction of guest rooms; construction of guest facilities; seagrass removal, and beach replenishment, and; guesthouse operations. The project is estimated to take 12 months to complete. All project designs are 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, Decentralization Act, Tourism Act, Guesthouse regulations, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation 2012, Waste Management Regulation, Regulation on Cutting Down and Uprooting Trees and Dewatering Regulation. Approvals have been granted for the concept by the Ministry of Tourism. Further approvals are required before construction and operations. The project is being undertaken in an inhabited island which has a heavily modified Environment. The island has undergone land reclamation, shore protection, vegetation removal and habour construction, among other modifications. The settlement occupies more than 60% of the island and settlement areas are generally devoid of continuous vegetation cover. There is a wetland environment on the island, which is considered the only such environment in the region. However, this site is not in the best of conditions, with signs of waste and reclamation around it. The proposed site has not been used for settlement but the areas have a highly modified vegetation system. Much of the project footprint comprises of coconut palms. The undergrowth in much of the area has been long removed and the palms appear to be planted by the locals. There is as Cadet Corp training camp within the vicinity of the project site. The biggest challenges from the natural environment are current erosion, lack of beach and seagrass overgrowth. The beach areas close to the proposed site are in poor condition with most areas lacking any beach and with severe erosion. There is sand pit which is a preferred picnic area for the locals. The immediate lagoon is covered with seagrass and will need to be removed to make the lagoon useable for swimming and other guest activities. The negative impacts from this project are typical impacts associated with tourism facilities development in Maldives, but with a much reduced scale. The most significant impact from this project during construction stage would be the loss of live coral colonies due to dredging and reclamation, removal of vegetation, excavation and dewatering, changes to coastal processes due to coastal developments, degradation of the terrestrial and marine environment due to the worker activities and disposal of waste. Main social impacts include potential conflicts with the public if equal job opportunity is not available for construction stage or operations stage of the property and social conflicts associated with sharing of utilities, beach areas and lagoon. The main anticipated negative impact during operations stage is the impacts on the beach due significant erosion and accretion patterns and social impacts associated with the above mentioned potential conflicts. The project mainly has positive socio-economic benefits, including increased direct and indirect job opportunities, growth of small businesses, growth in transport sector and improvement in transport to the island. Key mitigation measures for the construction stage include finding options to mitigate severe erosion on the island. A number of mitigation measures have been proposed in this assessment to mitigate the most significant impacts associated with the development, worker activities, vegetation removal, seagrass removal and beach replenishment. Alternatives options were evaluated for the activities that are identified to have significant impacts on or from the project. These include the options for erosion mitigation and seagrass removal. Alternative options have been proposed mitigate erosion and preference has been given to construct groynes on the NW corner. Alternative options assessment for seagrass removal was assessed but the currently proposed option to use excavators on sand beds was preferred. The Island Council, public and the nearest two resort islands were consulted on the project and all stakeholders have strong support to implement this project. The resorts have some reservations with some components of the project. The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) 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. Monitoring plan is designed to assess any changes to the physical environment as well as operational aspects of the guesthouse. The total cost of mitigation and monitoring are estimated between US$5,000 per year. The main conclusion of this report is to move forward with the proposed development after with the proposed alternatives and the suggested mitigation measures.
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