Tesla submits request to clear more trees from Giga Berlin site

(Credit: @gigafactory_4/Twitter)

On the heels of news that Tesla is looking to acquire a plot of land near the Giga Berlin complex, reports have now emerged stating that the electric car maker has expressed its intentions to clear more trees from its 300-hectare Grünheide site. About 90 hectares have been cleared from the Gigafactory Berlin complex so far, and Tesla is reportedly looking to add about 100 hectares more. 

As noted in a report from Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Frank Beck, the head of the Immissionsschutz in the Ministry of Environment, noted that Tesla’s request is already being examined. “The test is running,” he noted. Free Voter MP Philip Zeschmann, on the other hand, highlighted that it remains undecided if Tesla would need another environmental assessment for additional tree-clearing activities. “As far as I know, the tree-felling work that is being applied for is on areas of nature reserves. It’s not over yet,” he said. 

The Gigafactory Berlin site is being constructed in an extremely rapid manner, with structures like the factory shell of the Drive Unit building being completed in a few months. The factory itself has not yet received its full environmental approval, however, with the electric car maker only utilizing preliminary permits to expedite the project’s completion. Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach, for his part, has noted that he expects the full environmental approval for Gigafactory Berlin to be completed before the end of 2020. 

In a statement to the German publication, Steinbach has stated that he expects further requests for preliminary work to be submitted by Tesla. “It is to be expected that the approval can only come in December,” he said. 

The proposed additional tree-clearing activities in the Gigafactory Berlin site would likely be met with some criticism. The company’s initial tree-clearing activities, for example, have already been met with staunch disapproval from environmental activists, many of whom take issue with Tesla’s presence in the area. Interestingly enough, the site where Giga Berlin is being built on is a seasonal tree farm, which suggests that tree-clearing would eventually be done in the area regardless of Tesla’s presence. 

Other concerns, such as those related to Giga Berlin’s effects on the drinking water in the area, are expected to be addressed in a meeting Wednesday next week when critics will have the opportunity to address their objections to Tesla’s operations in the area. So far, 406 objections have been received against the electric car maker and its upcoming facility. 

Gigafactory Berlin is expected to employ up to 12,000 workers in its first expansion phase, though recent reports have pointed to as many as 40,000 employees being hired for the facility when it’s fully operational and ramped. Such a target is incredibly optimistic, but Elon Musk’s own statements about Giga Berlin suggest that the site would likely be very busy, thanks to its redesigned Model Y production line, next-generation paint shop, and its potential battery cell production activities, to name a few. 

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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