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Tesla applies for battery factory at new German plant

June 4, 2021

Tesla has also changed its application for emission control approval for its construction plans. The new application formally requests the additional battery production facility Tesla had already hinted at.

Tesla Gigafactory
Elon Musk's planned "Gigafactory" in Grünheide is already well under constructionImage: Michael Sohn/AP Photo/picture alliance

US carmaker Tesla has expanded its application for construction permits to build more facilities in Grünheide — south of Berlin — notably a battery factory.

In April, Tesla said it wanted to include a battery production facility in its permit application.

Given the scope of the changes, the state of Brandenburg's ministry of agriculture, environment and climate (MLUK) must decide in the next few days "whether to involve the public again," the licensing authority said in a statement on Thursday.

The MLUK added it would first fully assess Tesla's latest application.

Altering planning requests for such large-scale projects "is not unusual," the MLUK said,  adding that the carmaker had the right to amend its application at any time.  

So far, Tesla is only building on the basis of preliminary building permits but construction of Elon Musk's planned "Gigafactory" in Grünheide is already well underway.

The car manufacturer originally planned to start production at its first European plant in the summer.

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Following criticism from environmental groups, Tesla also wants to introduce various measures to reduce water consumption so that despite expansion of the plant, water consumption is still expected to be about 1.4 million cubic meters per year.

Legal and environmental obstacles

In December, the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court ruled that Tesla could not cut down trees in certain sections of a forest.

The court banned the carmaker from clearing the peripheral areas of its site, upholding an emergency appeal by environmental groups.

However, the court added that a stoppage in the rest of the area was unjustified and that Tesla could proceed, albeit with restrictions, to start the construction of its plant in Grünheide.

Tesla construction had been blocked for the second time in December after briefly getting the green light from a lower court to continue clearing the forest.

Environmental backlash

Conservation groups Grüne Liga (Green League) and Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) have opposed Tesla's planned construction, arguing that logging could endanger hibernating reptiles.

The case specifically focused on the well-being of the local smooth snakes(Coronella austriaca) and the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), both of which are protected species in Germany.

Tesla carried out measures to relocate the species earlier this year, but the environmentalists say the efforts did not go far enough.

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 mvb/msh (Reuters)