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Northvolt has the green light from Quebec to prepare the site for its future battery factory | The battery sector

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Northvolt has obtained an intervention permit in wetlands in order to prepare the site intended to accommodate the largest manufacturing project in the history of the province. (Archive photo)

  • Anne Marie Lecomte (View profile)Anne Marie Lecomte

Northvolt will begin preparatory work on the site which will host its battery factory in the coming days after having obtained the necessary authorizations from Quebec, the company announced on Tuesday.

By press release, the Swedish company said it had obtained a permit for intervention in wet and water environments from the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change. A building permit from the town of Saint-Basile-le-Grand is also required.

Consequently, Northvolt will begin in the coming days preparatory work on the site where it will build a huge vehicle battery factory, in Montérégie.

In order to obtain authorization from the Ministry of the Environment, the company says it has demonstrated that it has avoided the most sensitive areas and that it will minimize its footprint on the site. Northvolt assures that it has compensated for its impact on wetlands and that it will compensate for its impact on natural environments.

This vast battery cell manufacturing project benefited from financial assistance from the federal and provincial governments to the tune of $7.3 billion. In addition, thanks to a $240 million loan from François Legault's government, Northvolt acquired the 18.5 million square foot land that formerly housed the Canadian explosives factory. Industries Limited (CIL).

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In its press release on Tuesday, Northvolt would like to point out that some of the wetlands had been created by humans during decontamination work on the site. These wetlands, she says, have become of interest to wildlife.

Thus Northvolt ensures that its approach has the effect of Avoid the potential habitat of the least bittern (a heron) and the spiny softshell turtle. It also undertakes to protect the intermittent and permanent watercourses of the site with a buffer zone.

However, the company recognizes that it will not be possible to avoid all wetlands during the construction of its manufacturing complex. As compensation, she said she paid $4.75 million to the State Environmental and Water Protection Fund.

A document obtained by Radio-Canada revealed that in order to build its mega-factory, Batteries Northvolt Nord-Amérique Inc had requested last September from the Ministry of the Environment the right to backfill areas humid from October. On average, it generally takes 15 months to obtain such ministerial authorization. This means that Northvolt expected to obtain it in record time.

Wetlands of metropolitan interest are protected by the interim control regulation (RCI) of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM). Under this regulation adopted in 2022, any construction, any work, any work or any activity is prohibited in these wetlands.

However, the site available to Northvolt for its future factory includes no less than 52 hectares of these natural environments, the cradle of diversity, as described in the CMM regulations.

However, McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand have accepted a delegation of power which allows them to apply this regulation themselves. It is therefore up to these municipalities, which will host the battery cell factory on their respective territory, to assess its compliance.

With information from Thomas Gerbet

  • Anne Marie Lecomte (View profile)Anne Marie LecomteFollow

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