Although the facts show that the Northvolt plant will be built in a place that contains a great diversity of natural environments and habitats for wildlife species, Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette says that the construction of the manufacturing complex in this location is a good decision, as it is an “industrial space”.
According to information published Thursday morning by the duty, the vast land where the company will be located thanks to public funding includes a total of 74 wetlands, 62 of which are of “medium” or “high” importance for “biological diversity conservation”. Dozens of them also play a role in “carbon sequestration,” according to an analysis by a company hired by Northvolt.
The site, which includes forested areas, also serves as habitat for several species of wildlife, some of which are threatened and theoretically protected under Quebec law. “The land has regained a natural aspect with relatively dense vegetation” since the end of decades of industrial activity at the site, WSP also notes in a document obtained under the Access to Information Act.
In this context, could the factory project have been carried out elsewhere in Quebec, in a place that would not require the destruction of wetlands and forested areas? “The decision on where to establish (its) projects rests with Northvolt. However, the establishment of a manufacturing project on an industrial site is consistent with existing laws and regulations,” he said. duty the office of Minister Benoit Charette. The zoning of the land, which has not been changed since the end of industrial activities in 1999, effectively allows the construction of a factory.
“With respect to the wet and natural environments of the site, the company must comply with the requirements of the Ministry of the Environment, in addition to having all the necessary insurances and compensations required in this type of case,” specified the office . minister, by email. Compensation has not yet been finalized. It could be of a pecuniary nature and therefore be financed with public funds.
Interviewed by Radio-Canada on Thursday, Minister Benoit Charette also came to Northvolt’s defense. “We hope that this great project will be completed as soon as possible.” He added that the company did not benefit from any “privilege” that would speed up the authorization of the project.
Northvolt submitted an application in September to be able to make an “intervention” in the wetlands of the field it just acquired thanks to a loan from Investissement Québec, which is a state corporation.
According to a schedule of “stages of completion” included in a WSP report submitted to Quebec’s Ministry of the Environment, the company hoped to be able to quickly carry out work at the site. He wanted to carry out “deforestation” between October and November, but also destroy natural environments, including wetlands, in mid-December.
By doing so, the company would comply with federal regulations, which allow the destruction of nesting habitat for migratory birds, but only outside of the nesting season. The work would also bury live hibernating animals, including painted and loggerhead turtles.
So far, however, Northvolt has not obtained the requested authorizations. The Ministry of the Environment, Combating Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks only decided that the project would not undergo the environmental procedure that is usually provided for large industrial projects. Only phase three may have to pass the test of an environmental review. This will be done once the factory is up and running.
In July, Legault’s government changed rules that would have required Northvolt to produce an impact study of its factory project. As of now, battery factories are covered by a provision that sets the liability threshold at an annual production capacity of 60,000 metric tons. Northvolt anticipates a production of 56,000 tons, according to available information.
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