Construction work on Northvolt’s massive multibillion-dollar factory east of Montreal has been delayed until next Tuesday, pending a court ruling on an injunction filed by environmental groups.
The group is called Environmental Center Quebecois du Droit de Rhin (CQDE) filed an injunction in Superior Court on Thursday seeking to halt the work. Three citizens are also participating in the court challenge.
Swedish company Northvolt, a major player in the electric vehicle battery sector, said it had decided to halt work at the construction site later in the day “out of respect for the ongoing legal proceedings”.
Both sides appeared in court on Friday morning to present their arguments, but the case was adjourned until next Tuesday.
Northvolt’s legal team said it only received documents related to the case Thursday and needed more time to prepare. Following the adjournment, the judge ordered the construction stoppage to continue until 5pm on Tuesday.
Northvolt said in a statement after the court adjourned that its projects to date have respected some of the world’s most stringent environmental standards.
“And we remain committed to complying with environmental regulations currently in place,” the statement said.
If built, the plant would be located about 30 kilometers east of Montreal, on the border of Saint-Basil-le-Grand and McMasterville.
As part of the construction work, Northvolt received the go-ahead from Quebec’s Ministry of the Environment and began cutting down trees on site earlier this week.
Environmental groups have raised concerns about the damage the construction will cause to wetlands in the area.
CQDE’s lawyers argue that the Department of the Environment recently blocked another project in the area because it could damage wetlands. They say the department appears to have applied a different standard to Northvolt.
Last September, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault attended a press conference where the massive project was announced.
Prime Minister Trudeau called the project “historic and transformative.”
The first phase of Northvolt’s project is valued at a total investment of $7 billion and will have an annual battery cell manufacturing capacity of up to 30 GWh. It will also create up to 3,000 jobs in the region once the factory reaches full capacity.
An announcement last fall did not provide a timeline for the second phase of the project, which is expected to double production.