The latest approval came from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater, Management, and Karst Protection plans of the $5bn worth Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The protection plans outline engineering designs that will protect water quality during and after pipeline construction along the 483km pipeline section that spans from Highland County to Greensville County in Virginia.

Virginia Natural Resources Secretary Matthew Strickler said: “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s comprehensive review allows us to remain confident that these final construction plans will protect natural resources.

“After more than a year of detailed analysis, all aspects of these plans have been carefully reviewed, modified, and intensified before being approved by DEQ. We understand the pipeline projects have raised concerns. We remain dedicated to holding them to the highest environmental standards possible pursuant to state authorities.”

Developed jointly by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas, the underground natural gas pipeline will begin in West Virginia, pass through Virginia with a lateral extending to Chesapeake in the state and then stretch south into eastern North Carolina before ending in Robeson County.

Dominion Energy holds the responsibility for the construction and operations of the natural gas pipeline.

With the final state approval for pipeline construction secured, Atlantic Coast Pipeline will seek a Notice to Proceed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the full construction in Virginia.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline spokesperson Aaron Ruby said: “This is a major step forward for the project and brings our region one step closer to a growing economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security.

“Thousands of hardworking Virginians and local businesses across the state will soon be hard at work building this transformational project.”

Overall, the construction process of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is expected to create over 17,000 new jobs and $2.7bn in economic activity. The natural gas pipeline, which broke ground in May 2018, is due to be completed by late 2019.