Luxury land grab? Monaco’s offshore urban expansion

A vast construction project is under way in the principality of Monaco that will see six hectares (15 acres) of land reclaimed from the Mediterranean on which to build hundreds of new luxury homes. But environmental campaigners say the disruption to the seabed could spell disaster for local wildlife.

The €2 billion scheme, will see five new apartment buildings and 14 villas added to the tiny principality’s stock of luxury housing by 2025.

The first phase of the project in which 18 caissons – vast concrete, watertight chambers – will be put in place to create a new shoreline, is almost complete.

The area will then be filled in with some 450,000 cubic metres of sand imported from Sicily to create the new segment of land.

Construction company Bouygues says measures have been taken to minimise the impact on the environment.

Wildlife in the construction zone has been moved to reserves and artificial coral reefs have been incorporated into the caissons.

Nevertheless, the disruption to the seabed has angered environmental campaigners.

“In terms of ecology, it's the worst thing for the Mediterranean,” said marine biologist Alexandre Meinesz.

“The worst thing is the destruction of seabeds, as that's where fish reproduce. So if there are no more seabeds, there are no more fish."

Once finished, the homes of the new Portier Cove neighbourhood are expected to sell for around €100,000 per square metre, in a city where millionaires make up around a third of the population.