Tesla gets green light from German court to resume clearing operations at Giga Berlin site

Credit: Emil Senkel

Tesla takes a step closer to laying the first brick of its first Gigafactory in Europe as a German court ruled that the electric carmaker can resume clearing trees at the forest where it plans to build Giga Berlin.

The Berlin-Brandenburg court gave Tesla the green light to continue its work, noting that Brandenburg authorities did not violate laws and did not take any shortcuts when they allowed work to begin in Grunheide.

State authorities gave Tesla the initial go signal to clear about 90 hectares of land that will be used for the first phase of Giga Berlin. On Feb. 15 the clearing operation was halted after a complaint was filed by environmental group Gruene Liga Brandenburg that voiced concerns on the local water supply. The group also appealed that the carmaker must not clear trees until after March 5 when the deadline was set for the community and concerned groups to comment about Tesla’s project.

The favorable decision of the court would help Tesla keep to a proposed timeline to begin construction by mid-March. An unfavorable decision would have delayed construction by six to nine months and risk plans to vehicle production slated for July 2021. Tesla aims to produce 10,000 Model Y crossovers per week and expected to create 12,000 job opportunities for Germany and nearby countries.

The ruling was seen as a positive development by state Economics Minister Jorg Steinbach. “We are very pleased to see the verdict,” Steinbach said.

Tesla tried to address concerns of local residents and environmental groups in Grunheide by opening a community center where it held talks to inform locals that the carmaker is taking all the necessary steps to take care of the environment such as replanting trees three times the number it would cut and relocating wildlife as necessary.

Amid environmental protests, Tesla has won the heightened support of the economic minister and industry leaders who all called for faster review processes in Germany so as not to delay big projects such as Tesla. They warned that such long delays may weaken the appeal of Germany to investors.

German government’s Green Party also voiced out displeasure with the complaints lodged by the environmental groups.

You don’t always have to be against everything,” Green Party member and Berlin’s deputy governing mayor Ramona Pop said.

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