A German court has ordered Tesla to temporarily halt preparations for a car factory in Germany. This is after environmentalists won a court injunction on 16th February 2020 over the car company.
The electric carmaker had been clearing forest land near the German capital, Berlin, in preparation for its first European car and battery plant. Because of this, environmentalists say the factory is a threat to local wildlife and water supplies.
The court, however, maintained that the injunction was temporary and will be subject to further hearings.
Tesla’s boss Elon Musk announced plans in November 2019 to build a European facility. The facility is the Gigafactory 4 and is to be built in Grünheide, in the eastern state of Brandenburg.
However, the factory has now become a flashpoint between environmentalists and Germany’s pro-business Christian Democrat and Free Democrat parties. There is fear that a blowback on the issue could damage Germany’s image as a place to do business.
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Authorities had not given Tesla official permission to build the factory. Germany’s environment ministry, however, granted permission for the carmaker to begin site preparations “at its own risk”.
This project has involved clearing about 91 hectares of forest and the felling of thousands of trees. This, in particular, has outraged an alliance of environmentalists called the Green League.
Tesla plans to open the German Gigafactory in 2021
Tesla has promised to relocate colonies of forest ants, reptiles and bats, and is working with conservationists according to local media reports. In January, authorities defused seven Second World War bombs after discovery on the site.
The company bought almost 300 hectares (the size of more than 400 football pitches) in Grünheide from the state of Brandenburg to build the factory. Tesla’s ambitions are to produce up to 500,000 cars per year at the factory while employing up to 12,000 people.
Tesla plans to open the factory in 2021. However, this may be in jeopardy with the recent court ruling.
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