A German court has halted construction of American car maker Tesla’s fourth so-called Gigafactory near Berlin to allow time to investigate environmental activist groups’ concerns regarding the project’s impact on wildlife and water supplies, The Verge reports, quoting Reuters news agency.
Tesla announced plans for the Gigafactory 4 last November, but has not yet been granted official planning permission for the factory. However, Germany’s environment ministry told the company it could start preparing the site in advance at its own risk.
Local activist group Grüne Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg) subsequently complained about the work, citing environmental concerns.
Tesla bought a 300-hectare area in the Grünheide municipality near Berlin where it needs to fell 92 hectares of forest. The factory will have a capacity of up to 500,000 cars a year and would employ 12,000 people. The company has said it will relocate colonies of forest ants, reptiles, and bats that will be affected by its work.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended the factory’s impact on the environment in several tweets, saying that the factory will use little water on a daily basis, and that the forest being cleared is “not a natural forest” since it was planted for a cardboard factory.
“Giga Berlin will build sustainable energy vehicles using sustainable energy, so net environmental impact will be extremely positive!” Musk tweeted.
Title image: Tesla logo in front of the company’s Palo Alto headquarters (source: Shuttersctock)