Court stops tree clearance for Tesla’s proposed Berlin gigafactory


From pv magazine Germany.

Tesla was forced to interrupt preparatory work on 91ha of its 155ha proposed gigafactory site in Grünheide, near Berlin, on Saturday evening, at the request of the Administrative Court of the Brandenburg region. The court will review complaints made by environmental association Grüne Liga Brandenburg about tree-felling at the pine forest site.

The suspension of construction work, the court said, will apply until a final decision is taken, which should happen this month.

The court said it had taken the action because the preparatory work was already at an advanced stage and would have been completed within three days.

Brandenburg minister of economic affairs Jörg Steinbach, of the left-of-center SPD party, wrote on Twitter the administrative court gave the state environment agency and Tesla the opportunity to comment on the matter on Tuesday afternoon.


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At the request of the environmental group, the court will ascertain whether the fast-tracked authorization granted by local authorities for the preparatory work was legal. Objections to the battery factory can be raised until March 5. The Grüne Liga Brandenburg said it wants to ensure the approval process for the factory is complete before site preparation work finishes.

Tesla has said it is aiming to start production at Grünheide in summer next year and the halt on clearance work could strain that demanding timeline. Work has been halted on just 91ha as the rest of the site is due to be cleared after the end of the tree breeding season in the autumn.

Electric carmaker Tesla recently warned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) it could face delays at the German site. CEO Elon Musk on Sunday wrote on Twitter: “I am looking forward to international expansion later this year,” without mentioning the German court order.

Tesla had informed the SEC, construction and commissioning of Gigafactory Berlin would be subject to “a number of uncertainties” including compliance with legal requirements. Tesla said such uncertainty applies to all new production facilities, including its Gigafactory Shanghai. In Germany, the company said it is dealing with “complex laws” relating to the environment, production and health and safety.

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