Landowners press for more protections, as judge grants access to pipeline survey teams

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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Opponents of the Mountain Valley pipeline weren't planning to spend Tuesday morning by the side of the road.

But there they were on Green Hollow Drive, waiting to see if survey crews would appear on the gravel path that MVP plans to use for an access road.

On Friday, Federal Judge Elizabeth Dillon issued an order granting access for additional surveys, not just to stake out the construction zone as landowners anticipated, but to gather additional information on the terrain, cultural resources and endangered species.

"And here I believe the judge's order speaks to environmental surveying," said pipeline opponent Roberta Bondurant. "That would be wide open to all manner of interpretation and so landowners are asking for some limits on the definition of the judge's order."

The landowners have asked Judge Dillon to clarify her order. They want to know more about the exact nature of the surveys MVP hopes to accomplish, how much notice they can expect from the company and how and when survey teams will access their properties.

"It can be a pretty traumatic experience," landowner Robin Austin told WDBJ7. "And not knowing why they're coming, what they're coming to survey is not a good thing to face. And everyone doesn't have the ability to be with the surveyors."

A company spokesman shared the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The MVP project team is aware of the requests and will work through the court system in order to proceed with this important infrastructure project."

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Dillon placed a temporary hold on her order granting access, directing MVP to file a written response to the landowners' request for additional restrictions by 5 p.m. Wednesday.