Court stops Tesla’s work on German factory

17 February 2020

17 February 2020

Tesla has been ordered to halt ground-preparation work on its new production facility in Germany following a legal ruling.

The carmaker has yet to be granted planning permission for its site near Berlin’s new international airport but had begun clearing 92 hectares of forest at its own risk. However, while the state environmental office granted permission for this, the higher administrative court of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg ordered the suspension.

Legal action

The court said it had issued the order to stop the tree-felling because it would have only taken three more days to complete the work. Otherwise, the clearance would have been completed before judges made a final decision on a complaint brought by a local environmentalist group called the GrÜne Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg).

′It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of succeeding,’ the court added.

Since the announcement by Elon Musk that Europe’s first Tesla gigafactory would be located in GrÜnheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg, local and national lawmakers have been caught out by the strength of opposition to the plans.

Hundreds of demonstrators have protested over the perceived threats to local wildlife and water supplies. Lawmakers from the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) and Free Democrat (FDP) parties have said such action, together with the lawsuit, could inflict serious damage on the country’s image as a place to do business.

Relocation efforts

Tesla bought almost 300 hectares in GrÜnheide to build the factory, set to open in 2021. The electric-vehicle specialist has ambitions to produce up to 500,000 cars a year at the factory, employing around 12,000 people.

However, the company is in a race to get productions started at the plant, as Germany’s domestic manufacturers invest heavily in electric technology and start production of their own models. The US business is aware of the danger that established vehicle brands pose, especially in their home markets, and this has led to the decision to clear the land in preparation.

According to local media reports, Tesla has promised to relocate colonies of forest ants, reptiles and bats, and is working with conservationists. Last month, authorities defused seven Second World War bombs discovered at the site.