BERLIN (AFP) – After a series of administrative delays, United States (US) electric car pioneer Tesla is on the verge of receiving the go-ahead from German authorities yesterday to begin production at its “giga-factory” outside Berlin.
Officials in the eastern state of Brandenburg, where the factory is located, look set to confirm their approval at a press conference in Potsdam, according to local reports.
The plant, in Grueneheide, to the southeast of Berlin, is slated to produce 500,000 vehicles a year.
Announced with much fanfare in November 2019, the project was warmly received by politicians in a country proud of its car-making tradition.
Elon Musk’s Tesla benefitted from an expedited preliminary approval process, allowing it to begin construction before receiving the final planning permission.
But the American manufacturer’s early momentum was broken by a series of legal and administrative difficulties, in part prompted by angry locals with concerns over the environmental impact of the site.
Together with national NGOs Nabu and Gruene Liga, residents did everything to stand in the way of the project, organising protests, making court appeals and writing open letters.
In 2020, courts ordered Tesla to stop work at the site after a complaint by local associations fearing the destruction of the habitat of endangered lizards and snakes.
The plant’s massive demand for water was also a sore point for residents in an area that has been hit by summer droughts in the last three years.