The start of preparations for Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin have begun, trumpeted through an announcement from Brandenburg’s Minister of Economic Affairs Jörg Steinbach via social media channel Twitter.
Tesla plans to build 150,000 Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles per year at what will become the company’s fourth Gigafactory, at a site that the company secured for just less than an estimated €41 million ($A66 million) according to German media.
“It starts! Construction work has started,” was the unofficial announcement from the German minister on Thursday evening (Europe time), accompanied by a photo of a heavy work vehicle in the forest situated on the land earmarked for the electric car maker’s fourth Gigafactory.
— Jörg Steinbach (@joergstb) February 13, 2020
The first two timber harvesters (harvesters) and auxiliary vehicles had already been seen on the edge of the 300-hectare Gigafactory property were reported on Monday, with more following on Thursday, German Tesla news site Teslamag reported.
Official statement regarding the commencement of preparations came via Frauke Zelt, spokesperson for Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment .
“Tesla is now allowed to start this work at it own risk, before a decision is made to approve environmental protection,” said Zelt in a statement on Thursday.
Concerns about Tesla’s plans for environmental protection at the site gained media attention in January, centering around the clearing of trees and water usage (Musk noted in a Twitter post that the forest is not natural forest but plantation for cardboard).
In January, Tesla’s plans to build on the Grünheide, Brandenberg property near Berlin attracted opposition from locals opposing clearing of the forested land.
Tesla has said that it will reforest three times the area cleared and has also proposed specific areas for this, it was reported by RBB.
This was backed up by CEO and co-founder Elon Musk on Twitter, who said, “Giga Berlin / GF4 will absolutely be designed with sustainability and the environment in mind.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2020
By mid-March at the latest, around 90 hectares of pine trees are to be removed from the 300 hectare property; another 60 hectares are to follow in autumn, and no clearing is permitted in between due to the growing season, Teslamag reports.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.