Tesla notes 395 environmental objections to Giga Berlin
In the third public participation in the approval procedure for Tesla’s planned vehicle factory in Grünheide, 395 new objectors raised objections to the planned Gigafactory. A new public hearing will therefore be necessary.
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The Brandenburg State Office for the Environment has decided to schedule another hearing to discuss the objections. The date this time will take place online – because of the high number of objections and the current Corona regulations.
13 September has been mentioned as a possible date. However, the discussion could start earlier – but then it could also take a longer period of time, “possibly even several weeks”.
As the local German publication RBB writes, referring to a spokeswoman of the Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment, the objectors, authorities and Tesla are to discuss the respective objections during the “online consultation”. “People who have raised objections must be given access to a discussion meeting in order to actively participate,” the spokesperson says. Information on the exact procedure is still to be announced.
However, this “online consultation” does not seem to be planned as a kind of video conference. As RBB further writes, citing its own information, it is planned to “deal with all objections by e-mail”. There will be no virtual talks.
There is criticism of these plans. A representative of the Grünheide citizens’ initiative described the procedure as “undemocratic”, as there would be no real discussion. “This means that affected citizens do not have the opportunity to voice their fears directly and possibly have them removed,” the representative said. In addition, the online solution might exclude older people who cannot cope with the technology. Nabu also criticised the online consultation.
With the 395 objections from the third public consultation, the total number of objections rises to 809 – in the first two public participations, a total of 414 people and organisations had registered objections.
While Model Y production in Grünheide is still on hold (also in view of the lack of final approval), Tesla has launched a new variant of the Model Y in China. After Tesla received approval from the Chinese government in July to produce and sell the Model Y Standard Range in the country, deliveries of the new basic version of the model have now begun. This version, which will presumably soon be exported to Europe, features a 60 kWh LFP battery with cells from CATL. The price starts at 276,000 yuan after subsidies (36,180 euros). We have summarised more information on the Model Y SR here.
Update 13 September 2021
The new hearing of objections to the Tesla factory in Grünheide, initially scheduled for 13 September, is expected to begin at least ten days later – on 23 September at the earliest. For this to happen, however, Tesla must first submit outstanding documents, said Brandenburg’s Environment Minister Axel Vogel. In addition, it became known that the federal state of Brandenburg wants to contribute 120 million euros to the funding of Tesla’s battery cell production in Grünheide – in total, Tesla can reportedly count on state funding of 1.135 billion euros for this.
Update 14 September 2021
While the final approval for the factory is still pending, Brandenburg’s Minister of Economics Jörg Steinbach now put the probability of this at “95 per cent”. In addition, the Brandenburg State Environmental Agency has granted Tesla two further early approvals in connection with the Gigafactory in Grünheide. Thus, the construction of the complete modified building shell, including the changes to the storage hall now intended for battery cell production, is permitted. In addition, Tesla can build several basins for rainwater and fire-fighting water, for example.
Update 21 October 2021
Following criticism from environmental groups, the state of Brandenburg has decided to repeat the online discussion of objections to the Tesla plant in Grünheide. Brandenburg’s State Office for the Environment (LfU) announces that “for reasons of legal certainty, the online consultation in the immission control licensing procedure for the Tesla vehicle factory will be repeated”. The announcement for the start of the online consultation will be made on 25 October. The consultation will then start on 2 November.
The LfU does not specify in the announcement what the possible legal uncertainty, and thus a possible target for legal action against a final approval, consists of. Teslamag speculates that the period between the announcement of the first trial and its start may have been too short.
rbb24.de, heise.de, brandenburg.de (Giga Berlin, all in German), insideevs.com, electrek.co (both Model Y in China), berlin.de, tagesspiegel.de (both update in German), sueddeutsche.de (Steinbach, in German), brandenburg.de (early approvals, in German), teslamag.de, brandenburg.de (both in German, update 21.10.2021)