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Brandenburg Economic Minister Discusses Tesla Giga Berlin Permit, Delays & Dubious Environmental Objections

Jörg Steinbach, Brandenburg State's Economic Minister, gave a wide-ranging interview where he discussed Giga Berlin's final permit, delay, and questioned the motivation behind environmental groups objecting the project.

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Brandenburg’s Economic Minister Jörg Steinbach has been a vocal supporter of Tesla’s plans in his state. Not only is Steinbach thrilled with Giga Berlin but also believes Tesla’s approach is one that should be emulated by other German companies.

In an interview he gave to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Steinbach once again reiterated this sentiment saying "I invite every company to come to Brandenburg to invest with the same mentality and willingness to take risks as Tesla ."

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The risk Steinbach is referring to is the fact that Tesla is building its factory using preliminary permits. After the environmental review, if Tesla fails to obtain a final permit, then the EV maker will be forced to halt construction and dismantle the factory at its own cost.

Despite the risk, Steinbach still believes other companies should follow in Tesla’s footsteps saying “German companies can take an example here, provided they are willing to undertake this adjustment process."

Even though Steinbach advocates for companies to start their construction with a preliminary permit, he’s still not oblivious to the fact that Germany’s permitting process is too onerous and needs to be simplified.

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Steinbach pointed to one specific area of improvement: if companies want to change their plans, the permitting process should not “resets to zero”. Steinbach called for all relevant parties to work to make this process simpler.

Tesla is currently facing this same issue. Midway through building its factory, Tesla decided to add a battery plant to the Giga Berlin plans.

As a result, the Brandenburg State Office for Environment ruled the factory’s plans will need to undergo a second public review. The second review process is currently ongoing with the updated plans available to the public to view beginning June 18.

The documents can currently be reviewed online and in four different offices and will be available for the next 11 days. Afterward another 4 weeks are granted until August 16 to file complaints or questions.

And depending on the objections brought up, the environmental agency will decide if the permit needs to undergo a public hearing. If there is a hearing, citizens will be able to voice their concerns after which Tesla might need to make changes.

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In the Handelsblatt interview, Steinbach said he can’t rule out the possibility the second review might cause further delays. But, at the moment Giga Berlin’s construction is proceeding, as usual, using preliminary permits.

However, even Tesla’s preliminary permits are not without objection. Environmental groups have sued to stop Tesla from testing subsystems until the final permit is issued. Environmental groups have also accused the Brandenburg State government of giving Tesla preferential treatment.

However, Brandenburg Environmental Minister Axel Vogel believes it is “right to give Tesla preferential treatment" since the settlement of the factory in the area will have a positive impact that will reach the whole of Europe.

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Steinbach for his part also seems to question the motivation behind the environmental groups’ Objection. He said in the interview “I think it is questionable what justification a Bavarian environmental organization here in Brandenburg has to campaign against the Tesla settlement.”

Bavaria is home to some of Germany’s largest automakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Steinbach didn’t make the direct correlation with the German automakers but left it with a question mark.

So what do you think? Should other automakers follow Tesla’s lead and start constructing their factories with preliminary permits? Also, do you think there is a correlation between the Bavarian environmental groups protesting Tesla and Bavarian automakers? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments.

For more information check out: European Tesla Model Y Reservation Holders Might Get Their Vehicles Soon From Giga Shanghai Also, see Tesla Delivers Another Record Quarter, Q2, 2021

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.

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