09/28/2012 10:30 EDT | Updated 11/28/2012 05:12 EST

Too Much Opposition To Approve Pipeline, Panel Hears

FILE - In this 2007 file photo, a new oil transit pipeline runs across the tundra to flow station at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope. The oil pipeline that stretches 800 miles across the Alaska landscape is celebrating a milestone. The trans-Alaska oil pipeline on Wednesday marked 35 years in production with more than 16.5 billion barrels of oil loaded into the pipeline at Prudhoe Bay for delivery to Valdez, where it is loaded intotankers destined for the West Coast. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

Opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is too great to let the project go forward, a former British Columbia civil servant told a review panel Friday as the hearing wrapped up in Edmonton.

"This is probably the most controversial project I have ever seen in my 35 years of professional experience,” said Tom Gunton, B.C.’s former Deputy Minister of Environment.

Gunton, who now heads the environmental planning program at Simon Fraser University, was the final witness for the Edmonton-portion of the hearings.

The $6-billion plan would see a pipeline built to connect Alberta’s oilsands to the B.C. coast, providing more access to growing markets in Asia.

The project has been opposed by environmentalists and First Nations groups, who say that the pipeline could damage the area.

“The opposition is enormous in British Colombia and with that degree of opposition this project can not be built,” Gunton said.

The Joint Review Panel will move to Prince George, B.C. for the next round of hearings in October.

A final report on whether the pipeline should go ahead is expected before the end of 2013.

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