Tesla is building the company’s first European factory (Giga Berlin) in Grünheide, Germany, which is situated in the state of Brandenburg. And as Giga Berlin’s construction progresses, Tesla has been receiving increasingly vocal support from Brandenburg regulators.
Axel Vogel, head of The environmental organization overseeing Giga Berlin’s permitting process has even gone so far as to suggest, It’s “right to give Tesla preferential treatment” as Giga Berlin will have a positive impact on the environment that will span the whole of Europe.
Tesla also has a strong backing from the Minister President of Brandenburg, Hubert Dietmar Woidke and the Brandenburg State Economic Minister, Jörg Steinbach.
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Steinbach in a recent interview called on German companies to emulate Tesla’s approach and extended an invitation to every company "to come to Brandenburg to invest with the same mentality and willingness to take risks as Tesla ."
However, despite the strong support of regulators, Tesla seems to once again have been ensnared by the bureaucratic excesses of the German construction permitting process.
A request for information by Taggspiegel has revealed the Brandenburg State Environment Agency is initiating a fine proceeding against Tesla for illegal construction at the Giga Berlin premises.
According to a spokesman for the Brandenburg State Environmental Agency, during inspection of the construction site, the environmental agency found "that several tanks were built by the developer, although there is no permit”.
#GigaBerlin Some screenshots from the drone flight on Friday 25 June.#1 Exhaust stacks of the aluminum smelting furnaces are built #Gigapress ( CA )#2 Tank farm #3 RTO ( regenerative thermal oxidizer ) (PT) 'Painting'#4 Waste water treatment plant under construction. pic.twitter.com/ah5KZRRObZ— @GF4Tesla.build #GigaBerlin. (@Gf4Tesla) June 26, 2021
The ministry spokesman also added the State Environment Agency is checking whether further measures punishing Tesla are necessary. However, the spokesman did not elaborate on what those additional measures might be.
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And in a somewhat expected turn of events, Tesla’s current predicament has emboldened groups opposed to the Giga Berlin project.
Given the seriousness of the violation, a fine alone is not enough. "Tesla has crossed a red line," said Michael Ganschow, managing director of the Brandenburg Green League, in response to the Tagesspiegel.
Ganschow also added saying it is a scandal that Tesla has installed such systems without permission and called for the tanks to be dismantled.
An opposing voice was also echoed by the Green party in Brandenburg which called for a general construction freeze on Giga Berlin.
"For every other builder in Brandenburg, a district building authority would have long since imposed a construction freeze," said the member of parliament and ex-minister Christian Görke.
However, fierce opposition to Tesla is not anything new in Germany. The country is home to some of the biggest auto OEMs and Tesla’s success threatens entrenched parties and may mean losses in the billions of dollars for the old guard.
One particularly appalling example is a call by a German Newspaper To Bring “Elon Musk to his knees by joining forces to short Tesla”.
Still, despite all the attacks, Tesla has become the most sought-after employer in Germany by students looking to join the job market.
Giga Berlin’s construction also seems to be progressing in full steam. Tesla is putting the final touches on the main factory and the EV maker has now turned its attention to building the battery plant which will supply the factory.
Recently we have seen images of complex foundational work being undertaken at the site of the future battery plant suggesting the arrival of gigantic machinery. Tesla has even started using helicopters to aid the construction process of Giga Berlin.
So what do you think? Is the response from the Brandenburg Environmental Agency; the environmental groups; and members of parliament appropriate? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.
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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.