SHARE
COPY LINK

ECONOMY

‘Tesla isn’t above law’: Gigafactory construction near Berlin halted amid environmental concerns

US automaker Tesla was forced to suspend forest clearing for a new German plant Tuesday after environmentalists won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes.

'Tesla isn't above law': Gigafactory construction near Berlin halted amid environmental concerns
Cut down trees on the Tesla construction site. Photo: DPA

The electric vehicle giant ran into opposition from two nature conservation groups which launched urgent court action against the felling of 83 hectares (205 acres) of pine trees for its huge “gigafactory” plant at Gruenheide, south of Berlin.

READ ALSO: Birds, bats and ants evicted for new Tesla plant near Berlin

The news risks delaying the company's hopes to roll its first electric cars off the assembly line at the site in July 2021.

The administrative court in Frankfurt an der Oder told AFP it issued an interim injunction Monday “imposing a temporary halt to clearing” to allow for an examination of the case “in view of the rapid progress of the clearing work”.

A final decision on the complaint filed by the Brandenburg state chapter of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Green League is still pending.

Among the concerns was the destruction of habitats of protected species of sand lizards and smooth snakes in the area, or disturbing them during their winter hibernation.

“Tesla cannot and must not place itself above the law,” said Heinz Herwig Mascher, chairman of the Green League in Brandenburg, in a statement.

The site of the Tesla factory. Photo: DPA

Despite the energy-saving image of Tesla, run by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, the plant has long been in environmentalists' crosshairs.

In February, a court temporarily halted deforestation work over the alleged impact on wildlife and concerns it might harm the drinking water supply.

Work was also stopped earlier this year as authorities defused seven World War II bombs discovered at the site.

Tesla's first site in Europe still only has provisional construction permits, and has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk, pending final authorisation.

READ ALSO: Tesla to build 'world's largest' battery plant near Berlin

Tesla said the land covered under the latest injunction must be cleared to allow for pipelines and storage, according to the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Last week, Tesla was allowed to start installing machines in the gigafactory's paintshop, with the vast factory planned to churn out 500,000 Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs per year.

Musk recently announced the company was looking to build the world's largest battery factory at Gruenheide alongside the car plant.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

SHOW COMMENTS