Court orders Tesla to stop chopping down trees to build its German Gigafactory in victory for green campaigners
- Activists were trying to stop Tesla clearing trees to build a factory in Gruenheide
- State environment office had given a green light to fell 92 hectares for the plant
- Planning permission hadn’t been granted so the construction was at Tesla’s risk
A German court on Sunday ordered Tesla Inc to stop clearing forest land near the capital Berlin to build its first European car and battery factory in a victory for local environmental activists.
The US electric carmaker announced plans last November to build a Gigafactory in Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg.
The court ruling, by the higher administrative court of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, comes after the state environmental office gave a green light to clear 92 hectares of forest for the plant.
Planning permission has not yet been granted to build the Gigafactory, however, meaning US entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company is preparing the ground at its own risk.
Demonstrators hold anti-Tesla posters during a protest against plans by US electric vehicle pioneer Tesla to build its first European factory and design centre in Gruenheide near Berlin in January this year
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is pictured at a delivery ceremony in Shanghai, China in January this year
In a statement, the court said it had issued the order to stop the tree-felling because it would have only taken three more days to complete the work.
Otherwise the clearance would have been completed before judges made a final decision on the complaint brought by a local environmentalist group called the Gruene Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg).
‘It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of succeeding,’ the court statement added.
Lawmakers from the pro-business Christian Democrat and Free Democrat parties have warned that the legal battle waged against the Gigafactory would inflict serious and long-lasting damage on Germany’s image as a place to do business.
In this aerial view trees stand on the forest property where US automaker Tesla is to build a new Gigafactory near Gruenheide in January this year
Local and national lawmakers have been caught out by the strength of opposition to the Gigafactory, with hundreds of demonstrators protesting over what they say is the threat it poses to local wildlife and water supplies.
Tesla currently has two Gigafactories in the United States and one in Shanghai, China.
Tesla shares have surged 340 per cent since early June as more investors bet on Musk’s vision.