Activists use studded mats to stop Northvolts work

Activists use “studded mats” to stop Northvolt’s work

An anonymous group is calling for a new action on the Northvolt site to stop work destroying wetlands and felling trees. The company confirms that “vandalism” occurred.

“To stop the creation of wetlands on the Northvolt site and preserve the few remaining forest areas, numerous stud mats were buried in the forest and on the roads to damage vehicle tires and machinery on the site,” the group wrote in an anonymous press release sent out Tuesday morning. In January, an anonymous group also claimed responsibility for an act of “sabotage” on the website.

The activist group adds that “steel rods and nails were randomly inserted into the forest” to “arm the forest against its destroyers.” These types of measures, which can damage logging equipment, have already been used elsewhere in Canada and the United States by environmental activists seeking to stop logging.

In its press release entitled “Direct action against Northvolt,” the group argues that the government rejected a housing project planned on the same site last year and highlights the impact on biodiversity. He also recalls that the company held discussions with the government before registering on Quebec's lobbyist register and that the project was able to avoid the environmental review process normally required for large industrial projects.


Northvolt confirmed the activists' actions on Tuesday morning. “On the night of Sunday to Monday, individuals illegally entered the Northvolt premises to commit vandalism by hiding carpets containing nail heads. We check whether nails have been driven into the trees. These are serious and potentially dangerous actions for employees present on the construction site. We strongly denounce them,” it said in a written statement.

“Northvolt would like to point out that all necessary permits have been obtained to be able to carry out the work currently underway. To obtain these approvals, rigorous studies and analysis were carried out and strict conditions were met,” the statement continued.

A survey commissioned by Northvolt shows that citizens of the region where the mega-factory will be built believe it is a “good project”, but that the industrial complex raises environmental problems that require scrutiny by a Assessment, including an audit, deserves the Office for Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE).

Around 67% of the 500 respondents agreed to such an environmental assessment. This rate rises to 70% among respondents aged 18 to 54 and among residents of the cities of McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, where the largest industrial project in recent decades in Quebec will be built.

“If they respect the rules, it doesn’t matter whether there is a BAPE or not,” the Minister for Economy, Innovation and Energy claimed last week. , Pierre Fitzgibbon.

The regulatory change introduced last year by the Legault government means the company is instead conducting “ministerial approval applications” for various phases of the project. Despite an access to information request, Le Devoir was unable to learn the details of the application currently under review by Quebec's Environment Ministry to build the facility. The resulting document is heavily redacted.

The company plans to destroy more than 60,000 m2 of wetlands in the coming days to prepare the site for the first construction of its factory, although it has not yet received ministerial approval to begin construction.

To watch in the video