x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Planners aim to curb coastal sprawl

Guidelines aimed at balancing plans for coastal development with the needs of conservation are to be issued soon, a senior environmental official said.

ABU DHABI // Guidelines aimed at balancing plans for coastal development with the needs of conservation are to be issued soon, a senior environmental official said yesterday. The planning controls, developed by the Urban Planning Council (UPC) with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), will try to ensure that parts of the coastline remain free of development. "We do not want development sprawling all over the coast of Abu Dhabi," said Neil Mallen, UPC planning manager for the environment.

However, there is some concern that certain protected areas have already been earmarked for manufacturing and tourism projects. Mr Mallen was addressing the Urban Coastal Development 2009 conference, which started in Abu Dhabi yesterday. The guidelines are part of the council's Natural and Cultural Heritage Strategy. They will affect development in four coastal basins between Abu Dhabi island and Dubai. Each area will be divided into four land-use zones, including one where no development will be allowed.

However, conference delegates yesterday questioned whether the UPC would be able to translate its vision into reality as many coastal projects had been approved before the council was established 18 months ago. These included the new Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone at Ras Ghanadah, famous for its coral reefs. In addition, the Inner Islands contain Abu Dhabi's eastern mangroves, where the Tourism Development and Investment Company is building a resort and spa.

Mr Mallen said the UPC hoped to work with developers. "As of today, there is really no policy to regulate developments. This is really the first step," he said. Meanwhile, EAD announced yesterday that all developers will be issued copies of a new plumbing code designed to help conserve water by the end of April. Developed in collaboration with other government bodies, the code will contain design specifications for water supply and sanitation services in buildings and information on how to separate what experts call 'grey' and 'black' water.

The former is the runoff from taps and showers and can be reused easily while the latter refers to sewage effluent, which needs to undergo extensive purification before it can be used again for irrigation purposes. The code will also promote the use of vacuum drainage systems, which require less water. The announcement comes days after the agency announced the completion of its water master plan, which evaluates Abu Dhabi's water needs until 2030. The document calls for the urgent need to preserve the emirate's water resources, which are scarce and fast-windling.

vtodorova@thenational.ae