An environmental group filed an injunction request in an effort to stop the construction of Northvolt’s massive, multibillion-dollar electric vehicle battery plant east of Montreal.
Environmental group worried about damage to wetlands if construction allowed to go ahead
Antoni Nerestant · CBC News
· Posted: Jan 19, 2024 9:57 AM EST | Last Updated: January 19
See the site in Quebec where Northvolt wants to build an EV battery plantNorthvolt, a Swedish company and a giant in the field of electric vehicle batteries, has earmarked land near the Richelieu River in Saint-Basile-le-Grand east of Montreal, to build a massive, multibillion-dollar EV battery plant. Work halted in January pending the outcome of a court injunction request by an environmental group.
Work on the construction of Northvolt’s massive, multibillion-dollar plant east of Montreal is on hold until next Tuesday, pending a court ruling on an injunction request filed by an environmental group.
That group, which is called the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (CQDE), filed the injunction request in Superior Court on Thursday, calling for the work to stop. Three citizens are also part of the court challenge.
Northvolt, a Swedish company and a giant in the field of electric vehicle batteries, said it decided to suspend work on the construction site later that day “out of respect for the ongoing legal process.”
Both sides were in court on Friday morning to present their arguments, but the case was postponed until next Tuesday.
Northvolt’s legal team said it only received documents about the case on Thursday and needed more time to prepare. Along with the postponement, the judge ordered the stop on the construction work to continue until 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
In a statement issued after court was adjourned, Northvolt said that its previous projects have respected some of the strictest environmental norms in the world.
“And we plan to continue to abide by the environmental rules that are in effect,” the statement reads.
The plant, if built, will be located on the border of Saint-Basile-le-Grand and McMasterville, about 30 kilometres east of Montreal.
Northvolt wants to build a massive plant on the border of McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, about 30 kilometres east of Montreal. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)As part of the construction work, Northvolt began felling trees at the site earlier this week, after getting the green light from Quebec’s Environment Ministry.
Environmental groups have raised concerns about the damage the construction would cause to wetlands in that area.
Lawyers for the CQDE argue that the Environment Ministry had recently gotten in the way of another project in that area due to the potential damage it would cause to wetlands. They say the ministry seems to have applied a different standard for Northvolt.
Last September, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault participated in a news conference where the massive project was announced.
Trudeau called the project “historic and transformative.”
The first phase of Northvolt’s project, valued at $7 billion in total investment, would have an annual battery cell manufacturing capacity of up to 30 GWh. It would also create up to 3,000 jobs in the region as the plant reaches its full production potential.
During last fall’s announcement, no timeline was provided for the second phase of the project, which is expected to double the output.
WATCH | Federal, provincial politicians welcome Northvolt’s investment in Quebec:
Quebec, Canada bet billions on an EV battery plant east of MontrealNorthvolt, a Swedish battery manufacturing giant, says it will build a new multibillion-dollar electric vehicle battery plant east of Montreal. Quebec leaders are calling it the largest private investment in the province’s history — along with billions in public funding — but others say it carries no guarantees it will pay off for taxpayers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Antoni Nerestant has been with CBC Montreal since 2015. He’s worked as a video journalist, a sports reporter and a web writer, covering anything from Quebec provincial politics to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
With files from Radio-Canada and Sharon Yonan Renold