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ACP to begin clearing trees, vegetation

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday to begin limited tree felling and vegetation clearing in areas planned for construction in 2018, according to a release from Dominion Energy spokesperson Aaron Ruby.

The ACP is a 42-inch natural gas pipeline spanning Buckingham and parts of Cumberland and Prince Edward, and it also involves a 53,783-horsepower gas-fired compressor station along Route 56 in Buckingham.

Aaron Ruby

“Tree felling will begin in the coming days in West Virginia and Virginia, while activity in North Carolina will begin once we receive remaining state agency approvals,” Ruby said.

He said work will be done only on properties for which Dominion has reached agreements with landowners.

“None of the work will be done in wetlands, near waterbodies or in other areas that require additional federal and state permits,” Ruby said. “We will of course notify all landowners before beginning activity on their property.”

He said tree felling will continue through the end of March.

“All trees will remain along the right of way until we receive remaining state and federal approvals to clear trees and begin other construction,” Ruby said. “Once we’ve received those approvals, we’ll take the final step of requesting a Notice to Proceed with construction from FERC. We expect to receive all remaining approvals and a Notice to Proceed in time to begin construction in the early spring.”

He said Dominion is now days away from beginning pre-construction work that will pave the way for full construction in spring with completion of the project in late 2019.

In January 2017, Buckingham County supervisors approved a special use permit for a hotly-contested 53,783-horsepower compressor station slated to be constructed between Shelton Store and Union Hill roads on Route 56. The project’s development has drawn protest from residents in Buckingham.

FERC approved a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the ACP and Supply Header on Oct. 13. According to Ruby, the FERC approval is the main regulatory approval needed prior to the beginning of construction.

Friends of Buckingham filed a Request for Rehearing on Nov. 13 with FERC regarding FERC’s decision to issue a public convenience and necessity certificate for the ACP.

“A Request for Rehearing is the next step we are taking legally to stop the (ACP),” said Heidi Dhivya Berthoud, of Friends of Buckingham. “We have done this for our friends and neighbors so that we can all preserve our ability to take further legal action against FERC for the crimes they are committing against Buckingham County.”

Friends of Buckingham also requested a Motion for Stay, which, if successful, would halt any progress on the project.

“FERC may rule on the Request for Rehearing and the Stay, or it may choose not to,” Berthoud said in a press release. “But no matter the outcome, this will open the door for further litigation.”

According to the release, the Friends of Buckingham filing asserts that FERC and Dominion have failed to provide sufficient analysis and information on the environmental, cultural, historical, economic and socio-economic impacts of the project in Buckingham County.