Now snakes slow new Tesla plant in Germany - Just Auto
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Now snakes slow new Tesla plant in Germany

08 Dec 2020

First it was the controversial forest clearance, then issues with water supply, now snakes could hold up construction of Tesla's German factory near Berlin.

First it was the controversial forest clearance, then issues with water supply, now snakes could hold up construction of Tesla's German factory near Berlin.

According to a Reuters report, a German court has told the EV automaker to suspend clearing of a forest at the site after environmentalists said that cutting down more trees could endanger hibernating snakes.

"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," a spokesman for the administrative court in Frankfurt an der Oder in eastern Germany told the news agency.

Tesla declined to comment to Reuters and the Landesumweltamt declined to comment further.

The EV maker's first European factory and design centre in Gruenheide, outside Berlin, was scheduled to be ready to build its first Model Y by 1 July, 2021, Reuters noted, adding the Shanghai Gigafactory went from greenfield site to building cars in just 11 months.

Tesla's permission to start construction requires a conditional approval by local authorities which are obliged to consult environmental groups and the community, the report said.

Environmental activists from a local group, NABU, are concerned the smooth snake, also known as Coronella austriaca, may be hibernating in the ground at the site, and that tree-cutting activity may disturb its winter slumber.

Local authorities are also reviewing claims by NABU that Lacerta agilis, also known as sand lizards, could be put at risk by Tesla's expansion, NABU told Reuters.

At the beginning of October, Tesla set aside three days to consult local residents and potential critics of the factory but the process lasted eight days and 414 complaints and observations were lodged, the report said.

Residents were concerned the Gigafactory, especially once it started building battery cells, would be a drain on local water resources and wanted assurances from Tesla that consumption would be limited. In response, Tesla agreed to cut water consumption to 1.4m cubic metres, down from 3.3m, Reuters said.