Germany orders Tesla to halt factory development due to hibernating snakes
A German court has ordered Tesla to stop clearing forests at a site meant for a future factory due to concerns from environmentalists that the development could endanger hibernating snakes, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Tesla announced plans for its first European factory last year in Gruenheide, a municipality just outside of Berlin. The factory had been scheduled to begin operations on July 1, 2021, building the Model Y SUV.
The country’s Shanghai factory was built and running in less than a year, Reuters notes.
A spokesman for the administrative Frankfurt court said, “The Landesumweltamt [state environmental authority] and Tesla will now be consulted, they need to make submissions by this afternoon and then we assess the situation.”
Tesla is reportedly currently undergoing an environmental audit which could take some time.
Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), a local environmental group, expressed concerns that Coronella austriaca, known as the smooth snake, could be hibernating in the ground at the site of the planned factory. Clear-cutting the forest could risk disrupting their hibernation.
According to NABU, Lacerta agilis sand lizards could also be put at risk by Tesla’s actions.
Apart from its impact on wildlife, local authorities have expressed concerns that Tesla’s factory could be a drain on water resources. Tesla agreed to cut its water consumption down by half, from 3.3 million cubic meters to 1.4 million.
During a consultation with local community members and critics of the factory, 414 complaints were lodged. But Reuters reports that Tesla chose Germany specifically so that it can have the enviable label of “Made in Germany” on its vehicles.
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