Enbridge pipeline workers - press photo - http://www.gatewayfacts.ca/stay-informed/newsroom/pipeline

The proposed $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline would take bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to the B.C. coast for tanker export to Asia. But the controversial proposal has pitted Calgary-based Enbridge against environmental groups and several First Nations. (Northern Gateway)

A spokesman for the company behind the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal says he wasn't surprised by an application filed by environmentalists and First Nations in Vancouver's Federal Court.

The groups say the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel erred when it recommended approval of the project that would carry bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to a port on British Columbia's North Coast.

The Haisla and Gitxaala nations, the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, and Ecojustice are seeking a judicial review of the decision.

Enbridge Inc. and Northern Gateway spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht says the company believes the applications are premature.

He says the company is confident of the panel's integrity and its report, which was based on science and evidence presented at the hearings.

The federal cabinet has 180 days from the time it received the report, released in December, to make a final decision.