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EPA rejects land reclamation request for Maafaru Airport expansion

Shahudha Mohamed
29 December 2019, MVT 19:51
Maafaru International Airport situated in Noonu Atoll. EPA rejected the request for land reclamation in the island to expand the airport. PHOTO: REGIONAL AIRPORTS
Shahudha Mohamed
29 December 2019, MVT 19:51

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the request for land reclamation in Maafaru, Noonu Atoll, to expand the International Airport built on the island.

After conducting the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), EPA listed nine reasons for denying permission for land reclamation in Maafaru.

According to EPA, land reclamation will take up a large portion of the island's lagoon and have adverse effects on the surrounding reef.

EPA also stated that if land is reclaimed for the airport development, there will be no area left for reclamation in the future.

In addition to Maafaru being a popular nesting site for various species of sea turtles, EPA also stated that the damages to the environment due to reclamation, scheduled for a long period of time, will be catastrophic.

"A large part of Maafaru's lagoon will be permanently lost if land is reclaimed. Due to this, the ecosystem of the surrounding reef will be severely affected", EPA's report read.

The environment watchdog asserted that the reasons for land reclamation in Maafaru is insufficient considering the damages that will be inflicted due to the project.

The request for land reclamation was lodged to expand the airport to accommodate Boeing 777 aeroplanes. However, EPA stated that the frequency of these flights were not mentioned.

In April this year, many spoke out against the effects of major development projects on the ecosystem, following a picture of a turtle that crawled onto Maafaru looking for a nesting spot and laid eggs on the airport runway.

The turtle was later confirmed to be dead, an incident highlighting the devastating reality of how habitat loss affects mega-fauna.

At the time, a source from Maafaru Island Council claimed that "despite the construction of the runway, the frequency with which turtles visit the island for nesting purposes has not decreased".

Maafaru International Airport was officially inaugurated on December 1, 2019.

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