Tesla’s run-in with endangered bats could delay plans for Gigafactory 4

Tesla forest site of Gigafactory 4 in Berlin (Credit: Emil Senkel)

Tesla started clearing trees on the site where Gigafactory 4 will be built, and while there have been no World War II bombs discovered yet, CEO Elon Musk and his team might encounter an unlikely problem in the forest in Grunheide — endangered bat species that are currently hibernating.

Tesla promised to abide by the rules and the Gigafactory 4 environmental impact report details how the electric vehicle manufacturer plans to deal with trees, animals in the affected areas, among others. However, there’s a big issue with relocating the bats from the property in Brandenburg where the car factory will rise. There’s a species of endangered bats listed in the species protection law living in the forest and moving them to another location will not be that easy.

“The animals are in hibernation until the end of February and March. Then their mating season begins. Bats should not be disturbed during these phases,” said Christian Schröder, managing director of Nature Conservation Association (Nabu), a very active environmental group with around 18,000 members.

Tesla plans to start construction of the Gigafactory 4 in the first half of 2020 and it cannot avoid such delays if it wants to stick to its timeline. According to Schröder, there’s a work-around but Tesla must act quickly.

“In order to least disturb bats, they would have to be relocated to alternative areas during their hibernation. But this requires a special permit, which Tesla would also need,” Schröder said.

There’s more. Tesla must remove the trees by Feb. 27 or there will be another stumbling block since March is the time when birds in the said forest to breed. During that time, cutting and clearing trees are generally not permitted.

The authorities in Brandenburg have promised to exhaust all means within the legal framework to help the company.

Endangered bat species and breeding birds are not only the issues Tesla has to address before the factory construction can begin. Keen-eyed environmentalists are also taking note of actions to preserve the reptiles, wolves, deer, and wild boars, among others that will be displaced.

Tesla considered all issues and has started erecting the first reptile fences to isolate toads and other animals from the build site. It has also mapped locations for bird nests and forest ants to properly resettle.

With the mission to achieve sustainable transportation for humankind, Tesla is certainly doing well in the first stages of building the Gigafactory 4 in Brandenburg. Building a massive factory that will give jobs to around 8,000 individuals and produce electric vehicles that will help cut down emissions, it is much appreciated that it has been paying attention to the smallest of details and giving great importance even to the tiniest creatures such as the bats, birds, and forest ants in Grunheide.

Randell Suba: A curious soul who keeps wondering how Elon Musk, Tesla, electric cars, and clean energy technologies will shape the future, or do we really need to escape to Mars.
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