Berlin (AFP) – A few kilometers from Berlin, an unequal battle rages as it faces the establishment of the Giga Factory, a subsidiary of the Tesla Opposition to the manufacture of electric cars is a section of the population concerned about water resources in their area.
“When I heard on TV that the Tesla plant would be set up here, I couldn’t believe it,” Stephen Schurch said from behind the wheel of his German car.
This sixty-year-old resident of Erkner municipality, located three train stations from the capital, is considered one of the faces of the movement against the establishment of the first European “Tesla” factory for electric cars, which is expected to open next July in the Brandenburg area near Berlin.
The environmental activist, who heads the Association of Residents of his Area and cooperates with the influential German non-governmental organization “Napo”, noted that “Tesla” needs a lot of water, and this water is not present in the region. “
The “Giga Factory” was announced in November 2019, and was widely welcomed in Germany as it was seen as a confirmation of the development of its industrial capabilities.
At the same time, however, the project sparked concern in the immediate vicinity of the future plant. The residents, with the support of the non-governmental environmental organizations “Napo” and “Grony Lega”, did everything to delay the project. They organized demonstrations, took legal measures, published open letters, and more. Last year, the judiciary obligated Tesla to suspend work in the Giga Factory building workshop, based on a complaint filed by associations that fear the destruction of the natural habitats of the protected species of lizards and snakes.
Today, concerns are raised about the factory’s current consumption of water. This consumption, due to the successive expansions, may reach about 3.6 million cubic meters per year, or 30 percent of the amount available in the region, according to an investigation conducted by the “ZDF” channel. TV.
The concerned societies considered that this provision of consumption constitutes an additional burden on the areas already suffering from problems, which have been affected during the last three years by droughts in the summer.
“The water situation is bad and will deteriorate,” said Heiko Pachin, a spokesman for the local IJ Fraenbrink.
Also of concern is the risk of drying up of protected wetlands, which are home to local biodiversity.
Brandenburg’s Environment Minister Axel Vogel confirmed on German television last March that “there will be no over-capacity at this time.”
But the authorities acknowledge the “significant impact of the drought” and have established a working group to think about this issue in the long term. The plant will extend over an area of 300 hectares, handle the production of 500,000 electric cars annually, and will include “the largest battery factory in the world.”
Construction of the plant was carried out at a rapid pace, at the behest of Elon Musk, president of the California-based company. In just a year and a half, the vast coniferous forests gave way to several concrete foundations on the ocher floor, to which trucks reach via the Tesla Straße (Tesla Street).
The American company has an exceptional path whereby it obtained prior permission that allowed it to start carrying out works “on its own responsibility” with the payment of financial guarantees, even before obtaining a building permit. However, the final approval is still under study, as the authorities must assess the environmental impact of the project. .
If Tesla does not obtain the license, it will theoretically have to dismantle the plant at its expense. “Pressure is being exerted (on the regulatory authorities),” Michael Grechow, a representative of the “Gruny Lega” organization, told AFP.
At the end of March, Tesla expressed its anger at the slow pace of the German bureaucracy. In a letter, she suggested a set of reforms that would facilitate projects that would benefit the environment, which she considered applies to her Giga Factory factory. Economy Minister Peter Altmayer admitted that his government had not done enough to curb the bureaucratic slowdown in the country. Despite Germany’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are often slow due to bureaucracy that the economic community considers excessive.
There are many examples of this, including the new Berlin airport, which opened last October with an eight-year delay, and the Stuttgart train station, which began construction in 2010 and has yet to be completed. Brandenburg’s economy minister, Joerg Steinbach, spoke in February of the possibility of opening the Tesla plant late for the same reason.
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