Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be 564-mile interstate transmission pipeline to transport gas from West Virginia to North Carolina, US.

The $5bn pipeline will run from Harrison County through Virginia with an extension to Chesapeake, Virginia, and then south through central North Carolina to Robeson County.

The US Forest Service has issued favorable Record of Decision, allowing construction, operation and maintenance of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It also moves the project a step towards securing final approval expected later this year.

Dominion Energy spokesperson Aaron Ruby said in a statement: “The agency’s favorable decision was reached after more than three years of careful study, meaningful engagement with the public and other agencies, and extensive field surveys by expert wildlife biologists.

“Through close consultation with the agency, the project has made numerous adjustments to avoid environmentally sensitive areas in the national forests, including sensitive wildlife habitats. Total mileage in the national forests was also reduced by more than one-third.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has already given approval for the project.

However, the decision has been opposed by Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), which claims that the pipeline project would put the national forests at risk.

The pipeline will cross the Appalachian Mountains, the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests.

SELC senior attorney Greg Buppert said: “For the last two years, the Forest Service has been clear that ACP developers did not provide the agency with enough information to make a decision on this project.

“Serious questions remain about whether or not the pipeline can be built safely through the steep, unforgiving terrain of the Appalachians, but the agency abruptly changed course and approved the project.”

SELC said it is also challenging FERC’s approval issued to the pipeline project, claiming that the approval process is flawed.