The government green light granted to Northvolt to allow it to cut down trees and encroach on wetlands on the land of its battery cell mega-factory remains contested in court. The Quebec Environmental Law Center (CQDE) wants to debate the issue on the merits even though this work is progressing quickly.
The organization confirmed its intentions in a 24-page motion filed on February 9 with the Superior Court of Quebec. Its content essentially repeats the arguments of its request for a provisional injunction – which was rejected – last month when the CQDE wanted to stop the work which began a month ago in Montérégie.
According to the complainants, the Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP) had given carte blanche to Northvolt by granting it ministerial authorization to carry out preparatory work since it did not he did not have in hand all of the company’s commitments in terms of compensation for the loss of natural environments.
The minister did not complete the information research process allowing him to make an informed decision.
Extract from the request
This request from the CQDE also calls into question the validity of the felling permit issued by Saint-Basile-le-Grand.
On the 170-hectare site which straddles Saint-Basile-le-Grand and McMasterville, the first phase of preparatory work involves the felling of approximately 14,000 living or dead trees. The construction site will notably affect 13 hectares of wetlands. The site — where the Canadian Industries Limited explosives factory was once located — is home, among other things, to a nesting area for the least bittern, a bird considered a vulnerable species, whose presence has been detected three times.
In exchange for the green light from the MELCCFP, the Swedish company undertook to “create”, “restore” or “preserve” natural environments over an area of 30 to 50 hectares – up to 90 football fields – in the region.
The CQDE and Northvolt’s lawyers are due back in court on March 15. The procedure will not be debated on its merits on this date, however. This means that the preparatory work is likely to be very advanced by the time the court decides.
In the meantime, the organization could return to the charge with the filing of an interlocutory injunction in the hope of obtaining a suspension of the work until the case is heard on the merits. On Monday, it was not possible to know the intentions of the CQDE on this subject.
In a statement, Northvolt indicated that its lawyers would present their arguments in court, adding that it would not comment on a judicial case.
- 2.75 billion
- Amounts offered by Quebec and Ottawa to finance the construction of the Northvolt Quebec factory.
- 4.6 billion
- Maximum amount of production subsidies offered to the company by the two levels of government.