Major delays expected for Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in Berlin
A German court has ordered the development of Tesla’s new factory to be temporarily stopped, after environmentalists won a court injunction in Sunday. The Federal Minister of Economics has warned of major delays to the project.
German court stops development of Tesla site
Tesla has been ordered by Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court (OVG) to temporarily stop the development of their new car factory in Grünheide, Brandenburg. The international company was hit with an injunction after the Green League Brandenburg, an environmental protection association, appealed to the court.
Tesla had recently begun clearing around 91 hectares (225 acres) of forest from the site but was ordered to stop work until the court could reach a decision on the Green League's appeal.
Environmentalists vs industrialists
Pro-business advocates and supporters of the new Tesla project have faced particularly strong opposition from environmentalists, with hundreds of protestors campaigning against the threat the project poses to local wildlife and water supplies.
However, the CDU and FDP argue that legal action against the "Gigafactory" would be a serious detriment to Germany’s image as a business and investment hotspot. The Federal Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier (CDU), has warned of major delays to the project, telling reporters that the electric car factory was incredibly important for “climate protection” and one of the most important industrial projects in East Germany for a long time.
The dispute has resulted in a call for environmental associations' rights to court action to be restricted. The head of the CDU / CSU Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, Carsten Linnemann, argued that planning and approval procedures to be accelerated, in order to ensure that Germany continues to be an attractive place for investment. “Every new project is now being complained about and questioned [...] It cannot go on like this,” he said.
Tesla “building at its own risk”
While Elon Musk’s company had already started clearing the development site, the Federal Environment Ministry has only granted Tesla permission “at its own risk". The company has not yet been issued its final construction permit. Complaints against the factory can be made until March 5, after which the granting of the final permit will be reviewed.
Tesla want to start production at the new plant by the middle of next year. They hope to initially produce 150.000 electric vehicles a year, which could eventually rise to 500.000 a year. Tesla will also create 12.000 new jobs for the factory.