JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va (WVEC) -- Dominion Energy says the Army Corps of Engineers has approved a final permit for the utility to build a transmission line across the James River.

The company said the eight-mile long, 17-tower line is the only way to secure clean energy for the thousands of households on the Peninsula after the Yorktown coal fire plants shut down.

The debate over if the claim is true has gone on for years.

“It will affect this area forever. Our children, grandchildren,” said Wayne Williamson with the grassroots group Save the James. “It’s just destroying this river.”

The biggest concern from Williamson and other historic preservation groups has been the visual impact on the area.

“Right now, if you go [to Jamestown and Colonial National Historical Park] and know anything about history, this is where Captain John Smith first landed and you can go there and feel like you’re back in time,” said Pamela Goddard, with the National Parks Conservation Association.

Dominion Energy insists that the results of years of studies in the area have proven different.

“Will you be able to see it from the areas of public interest and historic sites? No,” said Dominion Energy spokesperson, Bonita Billingsley Harris.

The line and towers will be at least three miles from the shore, Harris explained.

James City County board of supervisors still needs to approve a switching station. That will be decided upon at a meeting July 11.

If denied, the process of erecting the towers could be delayed. Opposition had planned to take legal action against the Army Corps of Engineers if approved.

“It’s worth fighting to the last minute,” Williamson said.