(Saint-Basile-le-Grand) Work to prepare the site which will host Northvolt’s future battery mega-factory will begin “in the coming days” in Saint-Basile-le-Grand, the company said on Tuesday , which will have to compensate for this loss of natural environments within six years.
The Swedish multinational is only waiting for the construction permit from the municipality to undertake the deforestation and leveling of part of its 170 hectare land, after the issuance of a first ministerial authorization on Monday.
The work, which will take place Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., will include the felling of 8,730 live trees and 5,365 dead trees, as well as the removal of stumps and plant matter on the ground.
A biologist will be permanently present during deforestation, and the work will be stopped as soon as an animal is seen, in order to allow it to move into an area without work, indicated Luc-Antoine Marcoux, site manager, during a session. information for the media.
“Each of the workers will be made aware of the biodiversity present on the site,” he assured.
Northvolt plans to begin erecting its first buildings this summer, but other permits and authorizations will be needed to do so – the company estimates it will need between 15 and 30 for its entire project.
The Northvolt project “does not involve any significant encroachment into the environments considered more sensitive on the site” which are the watercourses and their banks, all the flood zones and the wetlands which constitute a potential breeding habitat for certain species such as the least bittern, declared Tuesday the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP), in a press release.
The company will nevertheless have to compensate for the loss of natural environments for biodiversity that its first work will cause by restoring, creating or conserving 30 to 50 hectares of contiguous natural environments, as close as possible to its site.
Quebec grants him a period of 36 months to submit and have a plan approved, then another period of 36 months to implement it, or six years in total.
This delay is explained in particular because it is “not simple” to find such land in Montérégie, argued Laurent Therrien, director of public affairs at Northvolt.
The company will also have to pay a financial contribution of 4.75 million to the State Environmental and Water Protection Fund to specifically compensate for the loss of wetlands caused by its initial work.
This first phase of the project is not submitted to the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE), since the Legault government recently modified the threshold for being subject to such an evaluation; Northvolt’s cathode production, which could reach 56,000 metric tons per year, is thus just below the new threshold of 60,000 tons from which such a review is automatic.
The second phase of the Northvolt project, which concerns battery recycling, will be subject to a BAPE evaluation.
“We continue to think that an independent environmental assessment is necessary for this project,” Alain Branchaud, general director of the Quebec section of the Society for Nature and Parks, told La Presse, saying he was particularly concerned by the levy of water. significant quantities of water in the Richelieu River, a habitat of the copper redhorse.
The company says it wants to make public the six environmental reports it submitted to the government to obtain authorization to begin its work, but maintains that it must first obtain authorization from their authors, emphasizing that certain documents produced before ‘she does not acquire the site, it does not belong to her.
Northvolt has also put a new website online to inform the population and answer questions about the work and its “environmental approach”; she will also hold meetings with civil society groups.