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|Title: ||Environmental impact assessment for the proposed shore protection project in Bilehffahi, Shaviyani Atoll|
|Authors: ||CDE Consulting|
|Keywords: ||Project description|
Policy and legal framework
Significant impacts and mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring plan
Environmental management plan
|Issue Date: ||Nov-2015|
|Citation: ||CDE Consulting. (2015). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed shore protection project in Bilehffahi, Shaviyani Atoll. 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 harbour
maintenance project in Bilehffahi, Shaviyani Atoll. The proponent of this project is Ministry of
Environment & Energy.
The main rationale for the project is to improve the access facilities of Bilehffahi Island to
facilitate improvement in the social and economic condition of the island. The island has a
harbour and a reef entrance, but the reef entrance has become shallow overtime and has become
dangerous for navigation due to the narrow width.
This project mainly involves widening the reef entrance, relocating a section on the breakwater
and disposing the dredge waste in designated locations near the harbour. The development is
designed based on environmental best practices suitable for marine construction in Maldives.
The project involves constructing erosion mitigation measures in Bilehffahi Island on the
northern and a section of the western beach. The proposed structures are nearshore breakwaters
based using armour rock.
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, Dredging and
Reclamation regulation and Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation 2012. Additional
approvals are required for the following before commencement of project activities.
Detailed drawings approval from the Ministry of Environment, Revision to the Dredging and
Reclamation approval if the alternative site plan is chosen.
At present the island is undergoing severe erosion on the north and western side. Analysis using
long-term data shows that Bilehfahi is ranked among the islands with the largest changes to the
shoreline in the last 50 years. The northern side has retreated alarmingly prior to 2004 but the
southwestern side has also grown to an unprecedented rate. The proposed protection measures
are warranted on the north as it displays a long term trend of island migration. However, the
southern side erosion could be considered periodic and the deployment of erosion mitigation
measures on a section of beach could have consequences for the stability of the rest of the island.
The proposed project site is in the shallow reef flat. It does not contain any live corals and the
neared live coral cover zone is far from the site. Moderate live coral cover was observed on the
reef slope at the surveyed points. Significant impacts of this project during construction phase of the project are potential
significant impacts on the marine environment due to excessive sedimentation, turbidity and
direct excavation related to temporary sand bed construction. The specific impacts on the coral
reef and lagoon environment are cumulative in nature and include loss of lagoon benthos
organisms along the dredge site, temporary sedimentation in on the reef areas close to the
northern tip of the island particularly with table corals, loss of coral life and temporary impacts
on fish life. These impacts are likely to persist only in the short-term. There will positive and
negative impacts on hydrodynamics and beach erosion. Changes to hydrodynamics are an
intended objective of the project. The leeward side of the breakwater is expected to be calm,
stabilising the beach behind it. Wave refraction around the corners of the breakwater is likely to
cause focussed erosion on the corresponding beach areas. The orientation of the breakwater will
have an effect on wave behaviour. During the operation phase the main concerns are the
potential risks to health and safety. There is also the potential risk of erosion in unprotected
sections of the beach. Most of these impacts can be minimized with proper mitigation measures
recommended in the report.
Key mitigation measures for the construction stage include working during calm conditions to
minimise damage to the surrounding coral reefs. It has been recommended to consider
alternative orientation for the northern breakwater to reduce the effects of wave refraction and
costs. The southern breakwater is recommended to be redesigned to facilitate seasonal
Consultations were undertaken with the public, Island Council and Ministry of Environment. All
persons consulted were in favour of reviewing the designs to propose designs that would have
least impact on the environment and those that would allow to continue the activities undertaken
on the beach such as boat maintenance and recreation.
The alternatives evaluated for the project were the no project option, alternative erosion
mitigation plan, alternative sediment containment measures and sand burrow areas. The no
project option is viable on the island, particularly on the southern side, in geophysical terms as
the island is undergoing substantial net accretion, at a scale which has not been observed
anywhere else in the Maldives. The no project option is not viable socially as there will be
significant public discontent if the project is stopped. It was recommend proceeding with
modified design based on these conditions. Alternative erosion mitigation measures were
anlaysed for both the northern and southern side and recommend over the existing site plan. The
revised options are cheaper, more efficient and address public concerns as well.
The monitoring plan has been designed with a focus to analyse the significant impacts over time,
particularly the effect on water quality and the impacts on marine life A management framework has been proposed and it is essential that this framework be used in
the construction stage of the project. The operation stage management can fall within the overall
resort environmental management framework.
In conclusion, project mainly has beneficial socio-economic impacts.|
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