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On Saturday, January 18, around 250 German protesters spoke out in Berlin against American car manufacturer Tesla’s plans to build a Tesla Gigafactory, claiming that the construction of the plant will consume enormous amounts of water and endanger surrounding wildlife. The US automotive and energy company had announced plans in November to construct its first European car factory in Gruenheide near the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport located southeast of Berlin.
Environmental protests in Germany have previously halted construction plans such as the Rhenish-Westphalian Power Plant’s (RWE) lignite mining at the Hambach Forest near Cologne in November 2019, where over 1,000 environmental activists broke through police lines and blocked train tracks at three major coal mines.
Anti-Tesla protesters are concerned about the water consumption of the plant that is expected to amount to 10,000,000 liters (2,641,720 gallons) per day. “We are here, we are loud, because Tesla is stealing our water,” protesters shouted. Protestors are not on board with the manufacturing of new cars in a town that is already congested. “We don’t need cars, in particular no new cars that would block the streets once again. Additionally 90 hectares would be destroyed and 10 million liters of water would be consumed every day,” said one protestor.
“In such an ecological system like the one here and with the background that climate is changing, I cannot understand why another location was not selected from the beginning,” said Frank Gersdorf, a member of Citizens’ Initiative Gruenheide against Gigafactory, a local group that organized the protest.
The construction of the Tesla factory will reportedly result in 300 hectares (740 acres) of deforestation, affecting the habitats of birds, insects and bats living in the forest.
However, a counterprotest also took place nearby, where demonstrators held up signs reading “Elon, I want a car from you” and “Welcome Tesla.”
Politicians, unions and industry groups are also optimistic about the American carmaker’s move in building its Gigafactory, saying it will bring jobs to the region. The Gigafactory investment project is said to be “a big step forward” with a positive vote from the Brandenburg parliament’s finance committee, says regional finance minister Katrin Lange.
The factory is expected to bring roughly 7,000 new jobs to Brandenburg alone, according to the Berlin government.