Northvolt: no problem of social acceptability, according to Minister Benoit Charette

There is no problem of social acceptability concerning the Northvolt battery factory project, according to the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette.

In parliamentary committee Wednesday morning, all opposition deputies questioned the minister on this controversial project promoted by the CAQ government which has been in the news for months.

They often came up against a wall, the silence of the minister, who refused to answer many questions because the case is before the courts.

“We have a problem of social acceptability,” argued MP Alejandra Zaga Mendez, from Québec solidaire (QS), to demand the holding of consultations with the Bureau d’audiences publique sur l’environnement (BAPE), in order to respond to all questions from citizens.

“The project is widely supported, I don’t think there is a problem of social acceptability,” replied Mr. Charette, referring to surveys. He suggested that opponents were given a lot of platforms and space.

“There are people who have questions, who may be worried, this is very legitimate in a democracy, but there is perhaps a preponderant voice which has been given to these people in relation to reality. »

Estimated at $7 billion, the Northvolt factory project is considered to be the largest private investment in the history of Quebec. The company will receive $2.7 billion in public funds to build its factory.

Its location is planned on a huge 172-hectare plot of land straddling McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, in Montérégie.

Battery cells and cathode materials will be manufactured there, and recycling will be carried out there.

A legal saga is underway to block the project. The Superior Court had refused to grant an injunction to the Quebec Environmental Law Center (CQDE) and the three citizens which targeted Northvolt.

They argued in particular that the Ministry of the Environment had authorized Northvolt to begin work on the ground without knowing precisely the impact on biodiversity, and without Northvolt presenting a detailed compensation plan.

In April, the CQDE and the three citizens returned to the charge before the Superior Court.

This time, they are contesting a regulatory modification which allowed the authorization of the Northvolt project without the holding of a BAPE.

The Regulation relating to the assessment and review of the environmental impacts of certain projects has been amended to avoid a BAPE assessment for battery factories that produce 60,000 metric tons or less.

However, the production capacity of the factory would be 56,000 metric tons.

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