What just happened? After a lower court ruled last week in Tesla's favor, allowing the company to clear forest land for its Gigafactory in Grünheide, Berlin, a local environmental group appealed the decision in Germany's higher administrative court of Berlin-Brandenburg on Sunday and got Tesla to temporarily halt groundwork for its manufacturing plant.
Back in November, Tesla announced plans for its fourth Gigafactory that would be built in Germany, making it the US automaker's first European plant. While the decision was welcomed and celebrated by German officials, it seems that Berlin's populace, particularly environmentalists in the city's eastern municipality of Grünheide - where the factory will be built - aren't on-board with the idea.
Reuters reports that a local environmentalist group, called the Green League Brandenburg, recently won an injunction from a German high court, calling for a temporary halt to Tesla's preparatory work for its Gigafactory.
Following the decision, the court said that it ordered Tesla to stop cutting trees because the company would have completely cleared the site in three more days, after which hearing the complaint would have been futile. "It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of succeeding," added the court statement.
The complaint, along with hundreds of anti-Tesla protestors voiced concerns regarding threats to the area's wildlife and water supply. Tesla, however, did announce countermeasures following the outcry and said that it would relocate "forest ants, reptiles and five bats" from the area, as well as hang 400 nesting boxes for birds, according to the German daily Tagesspiegel.
The court will also need to announce a final verdict soon and has sought a response from Tesla and local officials by tomorrow. The latter has warned of the wildlife's breeding season, which begins next month, and could potentially delay Tesla's Gigafactory construction by six to nine months if the company is unable to clear the site in time.
It's also worth noting that Tesla faces stiff competition from Germany's Big Three, who've been investing heavily in EV technology in recent years. The US automakers' facility is scheduled to begin production sometime in 2021, starting with the Model Y crossover, and an aim to produce 500,000 cars annually with a 12,000 strong workforce.