Tesla gets final approval for Giga Berlin

German authorities have finally approved Tesla’s mammoth $5.5 billion project in Grünheide, in the state of Brandenburg, Kallanish reports.

Both the state and federal governments confirmed on Friday the approval notice was granted with around 400 conditions. This means Tesla can continue its construction works and other activities, but operations will only be allowed to start after “several conditions” are met and checked by responsible authorities.

Such conditions include the installation of measuring devices for air pollutants and precautions for fire protection and accidents. A timeframe for production start-up is yet to be announced by Tesla, following its previous plan to open Berlin Giga last summer.

The final approval covers a project designed to produce up to 500,000 Model Y per year, as well as undisclosed battery manufacturing. It includes aluminium smelting plants and an aluminium foundry; plants for surface treatment, heat generation and storage. The facility also includes an operational wastewater treatment plant, fire brigade equipment house and laboratories and workshops.

“The Tesla approval process is unusual in several ways,” says environment minister Axel Vogel. “In a comparatively short time, the State Office for the Environment [LfU] inspected and approved not just a factory, but an entire industrial area with several large-scale plants and repeated public participation.”

The process started in January 2020 and had several changes along the way. It received 813 objections mostly from environmentalists concerned about its impact on local habitat, water and air. In its 536-page decision, the LfU says Tesla must reforest nearly 318 hectares by year-end and another 319 hectares by the end of 2025. Additionally, the carmaker has to install 90 nesting aids for birds, 60 bat boxes and alternative quarters for reptiles such as sand lizards and smooth snakes.

“The Tesla settlement is a showcase project,” comments economics minister Jörg Steinbach. “Tesla is an investor who was willing to take extensive risks and who in turn also contributed to the acceleration [of investments in the region] … I’m firmly convinced that the Tesla project will have a pull effect for years to come.”