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Northvolt, a Swedish electric vehicle battery manufacturer, has received a notice of non-compliance from the Quebec Environment Department after a subcontractor hired by the company clear cut 1,044 square meters of wetlands near the site of its future plant in Saint-Basil-le-Grand. The area that was cleared was not in the zone where preparation work was required for the construction of the plant. The company stated that the wetland was disconnected from the water system and had low to medium ecological functions. Northvolt’s spokesperson mentioned that the machine used did not cause significant damage to the land and soil, and the company is committed to replanting some of the destroyed trees.

The Quebec Environment Minister, Benoit Charette, stated that the company has proposed a plan to correct the situation and is cooperating well with the government. However, Greenpeace has raised concerns about the clear cutting, calling it unacceptable for a multinational company to engage in such activities. Greenpeace informed the government about the clear cutting, but inspectors did not visit the site until three weeks later. The environmental impact of the destruction of a thousand square meters of wetlands is significant, and it will take years to recreate the same ecosystem.

Greenpeace believes that an environmental assessment review should have been conducted before any preparation work began, but Northvolt argued that such a review would have created economic constraints and put the company at a competitive disadvantage. Northvolt’s goal is to deliver its first lithium-ion battery cells by 2026 and ultimately power up one million electric vehicles per year. The company is committed to complying with all environmental regulations and requirements set forth by the government department and is working towards replanting the trees that were destroyed during the clear cutting.

The collaboration between Northvolt and the Quebec Environment Department seems to be positive, with the company proposing a plan to address the non-compliance issue. However, Greenpeace remains skeptical of the company’s actions and the government’s response to the environmental damage caused by the clear cutting. The delay in inspecting the site after receiving complaints raises questions about the effectiveness of oversight and enforcement of environmental regulations. Despite the controversy surrounding the clear cutting incident, Northvolt remains focused on its goal of producing lithium-ion battery cells for electric vehicles and aims to contribute to the transition towards sustainable transportation solutions.

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