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‘Deforestation can continue!’ German court allows Tesla to chop down trees for Berlin ‘Gigafactory’, overruling local activists

A German court has given a final green light to Tesla – the avowedly eco-friendly carmaker – to continue clearing a forest near Berlin to make way for a new factory, striking down last-ditch challenge from local environmentalists.

The court rejected last minute appeals to halt the massive factory project, which will clear away 227 acres of woodland in the town of Gruenheide, noting that its ruling was final in a statement on Thursday.

“We are very relieved to see the verdict. The deforestation can continue,” Brandenburg’s Minister of Economics Jorg Steinbach told Bild.

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While Tesla was previously granted permission to resume building the $4 billion facility after beating a lawsuit brought by two activist groups, the company was again ordered to pause the forest-clearing this week over concerns the factory could pollute the area’s drinking water and harm wildlife. With that injunction overturned, the project will start back up sometime this month, but the company has only a brief window of time to get it done. Under German environmental law, Tesla will be barred from clearing trees between March and autumn, during the mating season for local animals.

Announced last November, the plant – dubbed the ‘Gigafactory 4’ – will produce the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, as well as powertrains, seats and the company’s “clean energy” battery packs. The factory is expected to start production in 2021 and hopes to churn out 150,000 vehicles per year.

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© REUTERS/Alexandria Sage/File Photo
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