Tesla: Grünheide votes for controversial expansion of the plant

Despite environmental protests
Grünheide says “yes”: community votes for controversial expansion of the Tesla factory

Residents of the community of Grünheide shortly before the Tesla vote in the Müggelspreehalle

© Patrick Pleul/dpa

The community of Grünheide near Berlin has cleared the way for the controversial expansion of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla’s factory site. Under police protection, the local council voted with a majority on Thursday for a changed development plan. Eleven community representatives voted yes, six voted no, and there were two abstentions. After criticism from the public, less forest should be cut down for the Tesla expansion than originally planned. The company wants to expand its premises to include a freight station and logistics areas. Environmental activists protested against the plans.

The community expects this to reduce traffic congestion for Grünheide. Environmental alliances, on the other hand, see environmental risks and called on community representatives to vote against an expansion. Tesla opponents announced further protests against company boss Elon Musk’s only European car factory.

Massive protests in Grünheide before the vote on Tesla expansion

Hundreds of environmental activists warned of environmental dangers in Grünheide last week and protested against an expansion. The “Turn off the tap from Tesla” alliance and the “Stop Tesla” initiative announced further actions. Following a court decision, environmental activists do not have to vacate a protest camp with tree houses set up at the end of February on the edge of the Tesla factory.

Almost two thirds of the citizens of Grünheide rejected the car manufacturer’s previous expansion plans in a survey in February. However, the citizens’ vote was not binding. Tesla had assured that it would address the concerns of the public. The development plan was revised and Tesla reduced the originally planned expansion area. Instead of more than 100 hectares, around 50 hectares of forest are now to be cleared. From the point of view of Tesla and Grünheide’s mayor Arne Christiani (independent), the planned works station can relieve freight traffic on the roads.

Environmentalists have concerns – Tesla rejects them

Tesla has been producing electric cars in the 9,200-resident community of Grünheide, southeast of Berlin, for around two years. Around 12,000 employees work at the plant. The worldwide planned job cuts at Tesla also affect hundreds of jobs in the factory in Grünheide.

Environmental associations, conservationists and residents are critical of the settlement, among other things because the site is in a water protection area. Lawsuits were also announced. The car manufacturer has dismissed concerns, pointing out, for example, that water consumption in the factory is lower than the industry average.

The chairwoman of the voluntary community council, Pamela Eichmann (SPD), supported Tesla’s expansion plans. She said on Deutschlandfunk on Thursday: “The planned freight station will then relieve citizens of 1,900 truck journeys a day.” She and her colleagues in the local council decided on the development plan independently of Tesla. The company did not exert any pressure.


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