Local residents say a Tesla factory planned for a forested site outside of Berlin will pollute their water and damage the environment. The state of Brandenburg hopes the "Gigafactory 4" will add thousands of jobs.
Around 200 demonstrators gathered Saturday in the village of Grünheide, east of Berlin, to protest the clearing of a forest to make way for a Tesla electric car factory.
Residents held posters reading "no factory in the forest" and "Tesla or drinking water" — citing concerns that the factory could contaminate the village's drinking water.
Brandenburg state lawmakers gave Tesla the green light to buy the 300 hectares (741 acres) of land on January 9. Tesla's "Gigafactory 4" will produce up to 500,000 units every year of its Model 3 and Y vehicles and other models, according to the US carmaker.
Tesla said the construction of the factory is scheduled to start in the first half of 2020, with the first cars rolling off assembly lines starting in July 2021. The price tag for the property is €41 million ($45.6 million). Tesla's board still needs to sign off on the deal.
Support for Tesla
Local police said more than 30 people took part in a counterdemonstration Saturday in support of the Tesla plant, holding banners reading "construct instead of frustrate" and "Elon, I want a car from you."
Germany's DPA news agency reported there were brief verbal altercations when the two sides met.
Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, has said he hopes the company's project in Brandenburg will not run into delays similar to the construction of the Berlin-Brandenburg airport.
Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel recently reported that bomb disposal teams are already searching the forest site for munitions left over from World War II.
Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, hopes that the Tesla plant will bring thousands of high-quality jobs to the region. Like other areas of former Communist East Germany, the region's economy lags behind the rest of Germany.