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Tesla has to move endangered bats to build Gigafactory 4, could delay and faces opposition

Tesla’s plan to build a giant factory, called Gigafactory 4, in Germany is running into some issues over the deforestation of the land where it plans to build. The latest issue is having to move some endangered bats, which could delay the plan.

Last year, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla is going to build Gigafactory 4 in the “Berlin area.”

The project will be sited on a 300-hectare plot of land next to the GVZ Berlin-Ost Freienbrink industrial park, which Tesla is trying to buy for €40 million.

Musk said that Tesla will build “batteries, powertrains, and vehicles, starting with Model Y” at Gigafactory 4 in Germany.

Over the last two months, the plan for the new factory has been gradually revealed through new construction plans and environmental assessments.

In order to build, Tesla is going to have to cut down a great number of trees. The section that needs to be deforested is shown in red below:

The company is expected to start the process soon and will be finished by the end of February.

Even though Tesla committed to planting three times as many trees as it is going to cut down, it is a controversial process due to the complex nature of the ecosystem.

One of those complexities is that the forest is home to many animals, and one of them is an endangered species of bats.

The Nature Conservation Association (Nabu) said that Tesla needs a special permit to relocate the bats.

Christiane Schröder, managing director of Nabu Brandenburg, commented to Berliner Zeitung (translated from German):

The animals are in hibernation until the end of February and March. Then their mating season begins. Bats should not be disturbed during these phases.

Tesla can’t wait for them to get out of hibernation because it will lead to the breeding season for birds in the forest, which causes its own problems.

Schröder added:

In order to least disturb bats, they would have to be relocated to alternative areas during their hibernation. But this requires a special permit, which Tesla would also needs.

In order to stay on schedule for the start of production in July 2021, Tesla will need to start construction in the next few months, but it needs to acquire those permits, and it is already facing opposition.

The government is now taking comments from citizens in opposition to the project, and it will take those into consideration.

We will update on the project if the timeline is affected.

Electrek’s Take

In Quebec, if you have bats in your house close to winter, you have to leave them there all winter because there’s a risk that they wouldn’t be able to find another home in time.

So I am sure this could be a problem for Tesla if bats are hibernating in the forest they need to clear.

I think Tesla’s Gigafactory 4 project is very important for the future of transportation and reducing emissions, which will ultimately hugely help the environment.

However, it’s not a reason to destroy a place where animal species have made their homes for thousands of years if you don’t have a viable alternative for them.

I hope Tesla works with the conservation groups to get everything in order before moving forward.

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