Tesla plans for German Gigafactory delayed over environmental concerns

A temporary injunction has stopped Tesla from clearing out more hectares of forest.

A German court has temporarily suspended building works to prepare ground for Tesla's new European factory while environmental concerns are examined. 

The Higher Administrative Court for Berlin-Brandenburg has ruled that the clearance of a forest near Berlin, of which a judge gave the green light for 227 acres to be felled last week, needs to be examined on the basis of an environmental group's complaint. 

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As reported by the Associated Press, the Green League Brandenburg group has raised concerns that removing such a large swathe of the forest may impact the purity of existing drinking water, as well as local wildlife populations. 

Planning permission for a new Gigafactory dedicated to producing electric vehicles and batteries, Tesla's first in Germany, has yet to be granted. However, site preparation is in full swing. 

The temporary injunction was made on Sunday. According to the court, it was possible for Tesla to finish the work within only three days.

Tesla is clearing the ground at its own risk, and in the meantime, the court has said, "It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of succeeding," as noted by The Guardian

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The automaker operates two Gigafactories in the United States and one in China, of which the latter has recently resumed operations following closure due to the coronavirus outbreak. Another, an assembly facility, is located in the Netherlands.  

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the creation of the German site in November. Rumors had surfaced suggesting that the United Kingdom could become the next Gigafactory base, but the chief executive said Brexit made the prospect "too risky." 

"Some of the best cars in the world are made in Germany, everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding," Musk said at the time. "That's part of the reason why we're locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany."

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In related news earlier this month, an owner of a used 2017 Tesla Model S, purchased with Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving functionality, found that a software update disabled Full Self Driving which furthermore caused the Summon feature to fall. 

The previous owner had not paid for Autopilot, and therefore the features were stripped and a complaint filed. As the issue gained traction publicly, Tesla apologized and restored full access. 

ZDNet has reached out to Tesla and will update when we hear back. 

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