A German court has ordered electric car maker Tesla to stop cutting trees on peripheral parts of the site of its planned factory near Berlin over concerns the forest clearing may pose a threat to protected wildlife. The ruling comes following an initial approval the US-based company has obtained for the project from the state of Brandenburg and the green light given by a lower court.
The decision of the German court also follows concerns expressed by MPs from the ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU) that the legal challenge against Tesla’s first European “gigafactory” could harm Germany’s attractiveness as an investment destination, according to news agencies.
Tesla is allowed to proceed with the project, but with restrictions
However, the decision of the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court effectively means that Tesla can proceed, though with restrictions, with the project to build an electric vehicle (EV) and battery plant, delivering only a partial victory to the environmentalist groups that have legally challenged the project.
Environmentalists argue that Tesla did not do enough to protect the endangered species
The Grüne Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg) and Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), the two environmentalist organizations opposing the project, have argued that Tesla’s measures to relocate the endangered smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) and sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) have not been sufficient.
Through court proceedings, they managed to block the works twice in a week earlier this month.
Belgrade residents in battle to save Košutnjak forest
In Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, activists are fighting a battle to prevent the clearing of an area in the city’s Košutnjak forest, where a private investor plans to develop residential buildings. Even though authorities have allegedly decided to put brakes on the project and ban the logging, Dejan Jovanović from the Battle for Košutnjak civil association claims that there is no proof such a decision has been made.
Trees in Košutnjak appear to still be in danger of being cut down, a fate that has already befallen hundreds, and perhaps thousands of trees throughout the Serbian capital. According to Jovanović, Belgraders are defending Košutnjak just as New Yorkers would defend their Central Park or Londoners, Hyde Park.
Tesla plans to make half a million electric cars a year at the German plant
According to reports, Tesla intends to manufacture around 150,000 electric cars a year at the future factory, with plans to boost annual output to 500,000. The plant, located in the town of Grünheide, south of Berlin, is expected to begin operations in the summer of 2021.