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The controversial expansion of the Tesla factory is approved

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The controversial expansion of the Tesla factory is approved

The controversial expansion of Tesla’s only European gigafactory was approved on Thursday, when the city council of the German municipality of Grünheide voted in favor of the automaker’s plans to expand its facilities near Berlin.

A majority of the council’s 19 representatives supported Tesla’s plans to expand its only European gigafactory. Eleven councilors voted in favor of the expansion, six voted against and two abstained. The vote improves Tesla’s chances of being able to build more space for logistics, including a train station, although the company still has to win approval from local environmental authorities. In July, Tesla announced plans to build one million electric cars a year at the site.

According to local reports, around 50 protesters gathered in front of the local government building when the result was announced. “It’s pretty disappointing,” says Esther Kamm, spokesperson for the anti-Tesla protest group Turn Off the Tap on Tesla (TDHA), which observed the vote. She said the group would still try to stop the expansion by continuing protests while it explores its legal options.

“Today was a bad decision and this complicates things, but it is definitely not the end of the story.”

TDHA is just one of a broad alliance of environmental groups opposing the expansion, claiming the factory’s presence threatens to contaminate local water supplies and describing the automaker’s reputation as an environmentally friendly company as deceptive

“I am angry,” Manu Hoyer, spokesman for the Grünheide Citizens’ Initiative, which represents local residents opposed to the factory, says in a statement. “Today the city council ignored my vote and that of my fellow citizens. ” In February, 65 percent of residents voted against the expansion plan in a non-binding poll.

Last week, during a demonstration against the expansion, hundreds of protesters tried to storm the factory, amid clashes with police. As part of a five-day protest, police saying 23 protesters were arrested and 27 officers injured.

Anti-Tesla protesters say they want to draw attention to the mineral extraction needed to make batteries for electric cars and the problems mining can pose to local communities. Electric car batteries need 170 kg more minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, according to 2021 figures published by the International Energy Agency.

Since February, a handful of protesters have been living in tree houses in the woods, just steps from the Tesla factory, in another attempt to stop the site’s expansion. They are currently allowed to stay until May 20. An attempt by the police to force the camp to abandon before that date was rejected today by a German court.

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