EPA advice against Maafaru airport expansion

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has decided against permitting the airport being developed at N. Maafaru to be expanded through reclamation.

Based on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by EPA on the project, the agency concluded that the reasons listed as justifications for expanding the airport to be able to land twin jets of Boeing-777s is not reasonable in comparison to the negative environment impacts that will be caused by pursuing the project. The frequency of Boeing 777 aircraft that would operate to Maafaru Airport is also unknown, noted EPA.

While a large percentage of the Maafaaru lagoon will be lost permanently if the project is pursued, it will have an impact on the surrounding eco-system of the lagoon, said the report. Maafaru is also a popular site at which turtles lay its eggs, therefore, the expansion of the airport will directly impact that aspect of the environment, said EPA. Additionally, over 22,000 trees currently existing on the island will be affected, noted the report.

An international airport was officially opened on Maafaru island earlier this year by the current administration. Although the development of the airport on the island with a population of 1257 people was initiated by the previous administration under former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's tenure, attempts were made even prior to that to develop an airport on the island since 2007. The Maldives government entertained the idea of developing an airport at Maafaru for about 15 years.