CLIENT: Infrastructure Malta
In 2018, Infrastructure Malta upgraded the ferry service that operates between Malta’s harbour areas. The aim of the project was to make the service more reliable whilst also encouraging alternative modes of public transport. To achieve this, the project sought to upgrade three existing ferry landing points (Sliema, Valletta and Bormla) and develop two new ferry landing points at Ta’ Xbiex, and Bugibba.
Ferry landing sites
Each terminal included sheltered areas for waiting passengers, as well as landing/boarding areas, priority areas for persons with disabilities and ticketing offices. To protect vessels from rough seas, the Valletta and Bugibba developments also included a pier (breakwater) at the Valletta ferry landing site. The Sliema terminal also accommodates two commercial areas to provide refreshments for people using the ferry service.
The benefits of this project were to improve marine public transport by:
increasing its comfort and safety;
providing appropriate facilities for the ferries;
improving the reliability and resilience of water-based transport;
developing a brand image for waterborne transport;
link into the real-time multimodal transport information system and
providing quick modes of transport to a number of locations.
Infrastructure Malta commissioned AIS Environment to carry out numerous studies on the ferry landing sites. The studies stemmed from requests made by the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA), relating to the EIA regulations, the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, the Cultural Heritage Act and the Environmental Management Construction Site Regulations.
AIS Environment prepared the following reports in relation to the ferry landing sites:
Project Description Statements [all five sites] – provide detailed descriptions of the developments, and highlight environmental impacts which could arise from the construction & operational phases
Environmental Monitoring Programmes [Valletta, Bormla & Bugibba] – outline the methodology for the environmental monitoring of the construction works
Environmental Risk Assessment [Valletta & Bugibba] – describe the potential sources of contamination from historic and existing uses of the sites and nearby surroundings, and identify the highest risk areas and activities
Benthic surveys [Ta’ Xbiex, Valletta & Bugibba] – describe and map the important species and habitats on the seabed, and identify the possible impact of the construction & operation of the ferry landing points on marine ecology
Marine archaeology surveys [Sliema & Bugibba] – describe and map underwater archaeological and cultural heritage features within the footprint and nearby area, and identify the possible impact of the construction & operation of the ferry landing points on underwater archaeology
Sediment sampling plan & chemical analyses [Sliema, Valletta and Bormla] – due to the expected dredging of marine sediment, AIS prepared a sampling plan, collected the samples and analysed the chemical analyses of the sediment to identify the preferred disposal method for this material
Appropriate Assessment [Bugibba] – since the development is located within a Natura 2000 site, AIS carried out an assessment of the project’s impacts on the protected species and habitats within this site, particularly Posidonia oceanica
Hydrodynamic study & Water Framework Directive assessment [Valletta & Bugibba] – describe the existing known impacts on the water body, and identify whether the developments are compliant with the objectives of the Water Framework Directive
Translocation of protected Steromphala nivosa [Valletta] – in light of the known presence of these rare and protected marine snails, AIS performed a diving survey to move individuals of these species away from the site footprint, thereby safeguarding them
The prepared reports were delivered to ERA to help them decide on whether to approve the developments or not. All five developments were given the green light by the authorities. Construction works are ongoing.