10/07/2015 16:58 EDT | Updated 10/07/2016 01:12 EDT

Northern Gateway rebuts challenge to proposed pipeline approval process

VANCOUVER — A lawyer for pipeline builder Northern Gateway told a Federal Court of Appeal that the company provided extensive accommodation to First Nations and did exhaustive studies into potential oil spills.

Bernard Roth asked the court to reject a legal attempt to quash government approval for a controversial $7-billion pipeline project.

A collection of First Nations, environmental groups and a union have mounted a legal challenge over what they claims is a federal review panel's failure to address the project's environmental impact and to seek aboriginal consent.

The 1,200-kilometre twin pipeline would transport diluted bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to a terminal on British Columbia's northern coast for overseas shipping.

Roth also disputes allegations from environmental lawyers that the panel tasked with reviewing the project ignored a humpback whale recovery strategy that was published two months before the panel released its recommendations.

He says Northern Gateway more than adequately accounted for the at-risk species because they fall under the marine mammal protection plan.

The Canadian Press