An important hurdle for the decision about the first European factory of US electric car manufacturer Tesla in Grünheide near Berlin has been cleared. According to the Brandenburg state government, Tesla submitted the missing documents for the approval process. “At the end of the 50th calendar week (13-19 December), the outstanding documents and information were received, which form the basis for a decision on the Tesla application,” said a spokesman for the Environment Ministry of the German press agency. These documents would now be checked by the State Office for the Environment and the Lower Water Authority of the Oder-Spree district, among others. “A date for the decision can therefore not be given.”
Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) is asking for patience. “I’m optimistic, but we mustn’t trip over the last few meters,” he said. “It is now important that we continue to do everything we can with the necessary patience to allow the approval process to continue professionally. We depend on, above all, Tesla itself, that a legally secure approval is available at the end of the day.” It is of no use if the approval in the end in court fails in whole or in part. Tesla has shown a “huge speed” so far, which has demanded all sides. “Two years ago, there were smaller pines on the area where a car and battery factory is now being built.”
“Urgent need to speed up the approval process”
The head of government is pushing for faster approvals. “We urgently need an acceleration of the approval process in the way that it was 30 years ago in the eastern German states,” said Woidke. “To this end, the length of the procedures in the authorities and the number of legal instances to which one can lodge an objection to the projects must be clearly limited.” He warned: “If we now accept” business as usual “in the expansion of renewable energies, the construction of transmission networks and the expansion of rail connections, we will not be able to ensure climate neutrality and prosperity.” In the coalition agreement, the SPD, Greens and FDP agreed to speed up planning and approval procedures.
Tesla boss Elon Musk had hoped that the first cars in Grünheide could roll off the production lines in December 2021 at the latest. Vehicles are already being produced there, but through internal tests. According to Tesla, the start of mass production was always planned for 2022. So far, the company is building its factory through several early approvals. In Brandenburg, the green light is generally expected, even if there might be conditions, because the basis for early approval includes a positive forecast for the entire project.
Conservationists fear negative consequences for the environment and drinking water. Tesla had denied the concerns. The environmental association Green League Brandenburg sees several questions unanswered. The classification of the waste according to the Waste Catalog Ordinance and the Hazardous Incident Ordinance does not seem to have been conclusively clarified, said state manager Michael Ganschow. It is not known whether there is a discharge permit for the waste water from battery production. In addition to unanswered questions about the seepage of rainwater, an illegal use permit under water law could also mean that the water supply for Tesla is not secured. Proceedings are pending before the Frankfurt (Oder) administrative court. (dpa-AFX / os)
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