Around 250 Germans launched protests on Saturday protested in the outskirts of Berlin where the American electric automaker Tesla is preparing to build a gigafactory, alleging its construction will endanger water supply and wildlife in the location.
The automaker announced its strategies last November to construct its first European auto factory in Gruenheide, located in the eastern state of Brandenburg.
Politicians, unions, and industry groups have welcomed the move, adding that it will bring jobs to the region, but environmental concerns made hundreds of locals to protest against the move on Saturday.
“We are here, we are loud, because Tesla is stealing our water,” protesters shouted.
Saturday’s protest emerged after a Brandenburg water association on Thursday cautioned against “extensive and serious problems with the drinking water supply and wastewater disposal” for the proposed gigafactory.
Anne Bach, a 27-year-old environmental activist, stated Tesla’s plans published previously this month revealed it would need more than 300 cubic meters of water per hour which would drain the area’s already reducing reserves.
“I am not against Tesla … But it’s about the site; in a forest area that is a protected wildlife zone. Is this necessary?” Bach asked.
“In such an ecological system like the one here and with the background that climate is changing, I cannot understand why another place was not selected from the start,” stated Frank Gersdorf, a member of “Citizens’ Initiative Gruenheide against Gigafactory”, a local group that led Saturday’s protest.
Environmentalist protests in Germany were earlier successful in halting and delaying major companies’ plans such as RWE’s lignite mining at the Hambach forest, near Cologne, which has become a signature for the anti-coal protests.
Saturday’s protest, which Gersdorf and Bach stated developed spontaneously from a 50-people forest walk demonstration, showed the deforestation of around 300 hectares to construct the factory and its impact on wildlife.
Protestors were also concerned about the rise in traffic on a nearby highway and through the villages.
Similarly, Tesla could find some support in this scenario. Next to the protest, on the other side of the street, about 20 people with the banners were welcoming Tesla in their village, with the chants, “We are here, we are loud, because Tesla is building our future.”
Bernd Kutz, a Gruenheide local, stated that the US automaker would bring improvement to the area, create jobs and give chances to young people.
“I am here because I don’t understand those demonstrators who shout and show us the finger,” Kutz stated. “Why has it always to be negative?”