The US company responds to environmental groups and residents and changes the application for approval of the factory. The public hearing is scheduled for September.
The American automaker Tesla has revised its application for approval of its planned gigafactory in Grünheide near Berlin. The Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection of the State of Brandenburg announced on Wednesday that the amended application documents had been received by the approval authority.
The company has made some changes to the project, “which are based on objections from environmental groups and affected citizens,” it says. In addition, the progress of the planning would have provided insights that made adjustments necessary. This affects, for example, the type of foundation for the future car factory.
A changed handling of water within the company should lead to a significant reduction in water consumption compared to the original planning. In addition, changes were made to the plant design in order to use the space more efficiently.
The water supply to the factory, which requires as much drinking water as a city with a population of 60,000, has so far been considered a point of contention for the planned four billion euro investment. Critics feared a threat to the public drinking water supply.
Tesla plans to manufacture around 500,000 electric vehicles a year in Grünheide near Berlin from 2021. The factory is expected to employ up to 12,000 people. With the amended application documents, Tesla is supplementing the documents for the approval process, which has been running since December 20, 2019.
The process is lengthy: the State Office for the Environment is currently examining the submitted documents. The project will then be announced again. The application documents will be reinterpreted.
It is then also possible to raise objections to the project, which may only refer to the changed parts of the application. The approval process already brought forth more than 370 objections, according to information from the Ministry.
Approval already started
Due to the current corona-related restrictions, it is planned to publish the entire application on the Internet. The ministry announced that the discussion date canceled in March due to the corona crisis should be rescheduled if possible in September.
The State Office for the Environment had already approved the start of early work in February, but this does not imply an anticipation of the final building permit. This can only be granted at the end of the environmental law approval process – for which there must first be a public hearing.
Originally, the final approval should be available by summer. However, Tesla can start construction earlier at its own risk and would have to restore the old state if the final green light failed to appear.
Brandenburg’s Minister of Economic Affairs Jörg Steinbach (SPD) believes that the factory could already be partially shown in the shell in autumn. Steinbach said on Wednesday in the economic committee of the state parliament in Potsdam. He rejected the request for a construction freeze.
The minister said Tesla reduced the planned water consumption by a third at the top because the painting of plastic components should be done elsewhere. He also defended test holes for foundation work.
With a view to initial stake tests without approval, Steinbach said, according to the German Press Agency (dpa): “They are now getting a corresponding order procedure and have to pay a fine there.”