8 Feb 2017

US army u-turns, grants Dakota pipeline permit

11:00 am on 8 February 2017

The US Army has informed Congress that it will grant permission to complete the controversial Dakota Access pipeline near tribal territory.

Snow covers Oceti Sakowin Camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on November 30, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Native Americans and activists from around the country have been gathering at the camp for several months trying to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Standing Rock protesters have been camping out in wintry conditions for weeks. Photo: AFP/ GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Scott Olson

The notice comes after Donald Trump formally backed the project in one of his first acts as US president.

Thousands of predominately Native Americans protesters boycotted the $NZ5.1 billion pipeline's construction in the state of North Dakota last year.

In December, prior to Mr Trump's inauguration, the army said it had refused to grant the permit and would consider alternative routes for the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Tribe said they would fight the latest decision in court.

"The Department of the Army announced today that it has completed a presidential-directed review of the remaining easement request for the Dakota Access pipeline, and has notified Congress that it intends to grant an easement," the Army said in a statement.

Easement is a special permit that allows a company to cross private land.

The 1,886km pipeline is almost finished except for a section under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, where demonstrators have set up protest encampments.

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