HELSINKI (Commodity Online) : The 1200 km long Baltic natural gas project received its final approval Friday as Finland gave permission to the $10.6 billion project.

Finnish environmental department gave permission for the project, paving the way for construction of the between Russia and Germany.

The southern Finnish Regional State Administrative Agency said that it had granted Nord Stream a permit to build the pipeline through Finland's economic zone in the Baltic Sea.

Russian-German joint venture Nord Stream AG had earlier received required permits from Denmark, Sweden and Russia, through whose waters the pipeline will pass.

Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in April. Due to be completed in 2011, it will carry some 1.9 trillion cubic feet (55 billion cubic meters) of natural gas a year from the Russian port of Vyborg to the German port of Greifswald.

Since the European Union in 2000 recognized the plans as a project of common interest, it has generated heated debate in the region, mainly over security concerns and possible environmental effects on the fragile maritime environment of the Baltic Sea.

Environmentalists and some government officials worry that the construction could lead to toxins and weapons being stirred up from the seabed in one of the world's most polluted seas.

Russia's Gazprom holds 51 percent of Nord Stream, while German energy companies E.ON Ruhrgas AG and Wintershall AG each have a 20 percent share. Dutch company Nederlandse Gasunie NV holds the remaining 9 percent.