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Germany: Residents Stage Protest Against Tesla Factory

Update January 26th, 2020, 07:30

In Germany’s Brandenburg province, the inhabitants are split. Some support the planned construction of Tesla’s European ‘Gigafactory’ in Grünheide. Others happen to disagree.

In Freienbrink, an industrial park near the small community of Grünheide in Brandenburg province, the Californian electric car maker Tesla wants to erect a ‘Gigafactory’ and start manufacturing vehicles as early as next year.

Concerns About Groundwater

The government of Brandenburg, especially First Minister Dietmar Woidke, could not be happier. He even established a task force in order to facilitate the bureaucracy Germany is known for. Both Woidke and Tesla know all of those regulations, as important as they might be, might slow things down, like they did at BER Airport, located only a few miles away.

Many residents in the region, including in Berlin, inhabitants support the ‘Gigafactory’ endeavor. Some are hoping for jobs, others are Tesla fans who are glad they will be moving to the greater Berlin area, and many are optimistic about the economical growth Tesla will bring.

On the other hand there are those who do not want Tesla in Brandenburg. In Grünheide, an ‘Initiative Against the Gigafactory’ started staging protests. Its members are concerned about the groundwater under the forst Tesla wants to get rid of for its factory.

Impact on Vegetation

Some do not believe in the job creation Woidke keeps on citing, also because Tesla already placed ads with which the company is looking for employees who speak Polish. Now some inhabitants in Grünheide believe the Americans will hire “cheap workers” in Poland instead of employing Brandenburgers.

Steffen Schorcht, one of the leaders of the initiative, told The Berlin Spectator he was concerned about the environment. The groundwater would be affected. That way, there would be less water for humans and animals. “This also has an impact on the vegetation because the groundwater level might sink”, he told this publication.

The extremist right-wing party ‘AfD’ tried to bogart the protests against the factory for its purposes, according to Schorcht. On Saturday, at the protest, he made clear the initiative did not want to give the radicals any platform.

Mayor is Supporter of Factory

Now he and the other initiative members will wait for the outcome of an environmental impact assessment. Steffen Schorcht says the organization would decide about future activities once the result was available. More protests on the marketplace of Grünheide have already been scheduled for February 1st, 8th and 15th.

The Mayor of Grünheide, Arne Christiani, is a supporter of Tesla’s plans. He knows he will need to extend the community’s infrastructure. Down there in Brandenburg, they will need absolutely everything, including more public transport, schools, kindergartens, housing and supermarkets. And lots of loading stations for electric cars, for Tesla’s employees.

At today’s protest, Steffen Schorcht said he had seen more Tesla vehicles in Grünheide than ever before in the past few weeks. Tesla owners seem to be checking out the future ‘Gigafactory’s neighborhood. They obviously can’t wait to see it.

Note: Our video report from Grünheide can be accessed and watch at the top of this page.

By the way: The publication you are reading, The Berlin Spectator, was established in January of 2019. We have worked a whole lot, as you can see. But there has hardly been any income. This is something we urgently need to change. Would you consider contributing? We would be very thankful. Our donations page can be found here.