Finnish environmental officials have given permission for a gas pipeline underneath the Baltic Sea, the final requirement for developers to begin the 7.4 billion euro ($10.6 billion) project between Russia and Germany.
Finland's government had already approved the venture, along with other affected countries Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Russia, but the local environment agency also had to give the thumbs up. Almost 400 kilometers of the pipeline are expected to go through the Finnish economic zone.
The Nord Stream project involves building a 1,220-kilometer pipeline to deliver gas to western Europe from Russia, bypassing Eastern Europe. Russian energy giant Gazprom leads the project, along with Germany's E.On Ruhrgas and BASF Wintershall.
When finished, the pipeline will connect the Russian port of Vyborg with the German port of Greifswald, carrying some 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. The company Nord Stream AG plans to begin construction this year, and turn on the pumps in 2011.
However, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth Germany have issued a civil lawsuit against the plans, claiming that the project will cause greater environmental damage than the Nord Stream AG company asserts.
Editor: Andreas Illmer