20 Feb 2020, 14:00
Rachel Waldholz

Greens and environmental groups say Tesla factory near Berlin should go ahead

Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire

Representatives from the German Green Party and major German environmental organizations have called for work to continue at Tesla’s proposed e-car factory in Grünheide, outside Berlin. The comments come in opposition to a local environmental group, the Green League, which forced Tesla to stop clearing land at the site when it filed a legal complaint citing environmental concerns. Green Party politicians distanced themselves from the local activists, arguing that the forest where the factory is to be built is itself an industrial site. “It is absurd to turn a pine plantation into a battlefield,” Oliver Krischer, deputy leader of the Greens' parliamentary group in the Bundestag, said, according to the business daily Handelsblatt. “This has nothing to do with nature conservation.”

Kai Niebert, president of the German League for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection, an umbrella group of environmental NGOs, also weighed in. “Grünheide is the wrong battlefield,” he wrote in a tweet. “Conservationists are interested in intact nature, not in industrial forests.” His statement was retweeted by German environment minister Svenja Schulze, of the Social Democrats, who called it a “very good comment”. 

The criticism joins comments from conservative politicians and business organizations earlier this week, who said the delay at Tesla’s factory could damage Germany’s reputation.

Tesla announced plans in November to invest several billion euros in the factory outside Berlin. The project, which will produce both electric cars and batteries, has been hailed as a potential gamechanger for the German e-car industry, but has also faced questions about its local environmental impact and potential use of government subsidies.

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