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Gigafactory approval may still take – but Tesla should even produce before that

From the end of September, representatives of the Brandenburg State Environment Agency received objections from citizens and associations to the Gigafactory in Grünheide planned by Tesla for eight days instead of the previously planned three days. During the sometimes turbulent marathon session in the town hall of the neighboring town of Erkner, some objectors requested additional documents from Tesla and then their interpretation, including a renewed discussion, which could take a total of several months. Several German newspapers took this as an opportunity to write about “new risks” for the Tesla project – actually they are old, and so far they have not appeared dramatic.

New Tesla documents as a risk

For example, shortly after the long discussion, the Potsdamer Latest News asked whether Tesla’s schedule was still faltering. As a clue, the request of several associations to make updated and supplemented documents on the Gigafactory public again. The leader of the meeting from the State Environment Agency has agreed to check this point in addition to all other information and to decide on it.

After the discussion in Erkner, the Tagesspiegel also saw “new dangers” for Tesla in a headline – and otherwise the same thing as the Potsdamer Nachrichten, because the article comes from the same author. This week the Berliner Zeitung reported that Tesla does not yet have the final approval, which is factual, and that “critics could prevent completion”, for which the article contains no other evidence.

Finally, the Handelsblatt spoke to critics of the Gigafactory project in between and then reported that Tesla was “once again facing risks” and that “new criticism” was being voiced. Representatives of environmental associations are quoted in the article from this Monday with the statement that the whole process about Tesla is unacceptable. When asked, the Green League criticized the water requirements for the factory, but certainly not for the first time.

First Tesla before the end of the procedure

The main risk mentioned in the Handelsblatt article is the possibly necessary new interpretation of documents, which could delay the procedure. Tesla had already had to present and interpret new plans at the end of June after the first of the end of 2019, which made new objections possible and necessary to be discussed (the first date for this was canceled due to the corona pandemic). During the three months that went by, Tesla was building large parts of its factory with advance permits permitted under German law.

And so, despite the new risks and dangers reported, it could go on for quite a while before the Tesla schedule really wavers. The official start date is currently the summer of 2021, and this August Tesla has already applied for the first interior fittings. The Brandenburg state government provides information about this on its website with answers about the Tesla settlement.

And there is also information about other possible advance approvals: “The legislature grants this possibility for the construction of the entire system including the testing of the operational reliability”. In plain language, that should mean that Tesla – as always in Grünheide at its own risk – should even build the first electric cars before the final decision about the Gigafactory is made.

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