A plan to double the size of Għadira beach has fuelled concerns over the expected increase in traffic and parking needs.

Questions have also been raised on whether the bus service will be able to cope with the additional demand and the impact the project will have on residents of Mellieħa and St Paul’s Bay.

But a spokeswoman for Projects Malta, the government agency responsible for public-private partnerships overseeing the project, said these aspects were all being addressed.

Announced by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi last summer, the project aims to extend the country’s most popular sandy beach by some 20-40 metres along a perimeter of one kilometre.

A 230-page feasibility study is also recommending the construction of an artificial reef to prevent the replenished sand from being carried out to sea during stormy weather. It is being proposed to raise the road along Għadira Bay on stilts, to facilitate the natural regeneration of the sand dunes.

Read: Għadira kiosks might have to be removed for sand dunes to recover

The project is estimated to take about five years to complete.

In recent months, Nationalist Party MP Robert Cutajar tabled parliamentary questions on the subject but the information given by Dr Mizzi was rather limited, merely saying studies were still under way.

A few days ago, the MP uploaded a Facebook post saying he had been invited for a “cordial meeting” by Projects Malta for a briefing on the plan.

Mellieħa residents are already facing an ordeal to catch a bus

Welcoming the ultimate objective of the project, he raised a list of issues, which he said should be addressed before the project was implemented.

Mr Cutajar called for a study on the additional traffic that would be generated, solutions for parking problems and measures to improve the bus service.

“Given that there is already a shortage of parking and that Mellieħa residents are already facing an ordeal to catch a bus, particularly in summer, these issues must be urgently tackled,” Mr Cutajar said when contacted by this newspaper.

He also sought assurances that Għadira Bay would not lose its Blue Flag status acquired in 2010.

Sources said the Environment Resources Authority had yet to give its go-ahead for the project.

According to the feasibility study, the beach extension was due to be carried out by the start of this summer.

However, the deadline will be missed as the development application is still pending.

Replying to questions by this newspaper, Projects Malta said the project would enable adequate space for visitors and create “world-class facilities”.

“The project team is engaging with all key stakeholders to ensure views are adequately represented. All aspects are being planned for, including transport considerations. An Opposition representative has also been briefed and his feedback was provided,” a spokeswoman said.

However, no details were given on how the problems being flagged would be addressed.

As for the Blue Flag status, Projects Malta insisted that all necessary measures would be taken to preserve it.

However, no timeframe was given for the start of work.

“The replenishment will be carried out once the permit is issued,” the spokeswoman said.

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