The environmental association Green League fears that the expansion of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla’s factory site will have negative consequences for the environment. “The forest that should not be cleared is part of the development plan,” said the managing director of the Brandenburg Green League, Michael Ganschow, to the German Press Agency. “Forest conversion would be possible at any time and could not be prevented.”

On Thursday, the majority of community representatives approved the controversial development plan for an expansion of the factory site to build a freight station and logistics areas. Forests should be cleared for this purpose. This is met with protests from environmentalists and residents. Almost two thirds of Grünheide’s citizens rejected the car manufacturer’s original expansion plans in a survey in February. A compromise then called for clearing just under 50 hectares of forest instead of over 100 hectares. Tesla points out that more than 70 hectares of forest were preserved.

The managing director criticized the local council for not voting against the expansion. “The elected community representatives ignore the citizens’ decision in the citizen survey,” said Ganschow. “This is a disservice to democracy – they bear sole responsibility for it.” He also pointed out that the freight station, which is intended to relieve truck traffic, was already planned in the development plan for the existing site. “Such a freight station was already planned on B-Plan No. 13 for the existing factory site,” he said.

Around 12,000 employees work at the Tesla factory in Grünheide near Berlin. Since the construction of the factory, environmental groups have seen major risks, which Tesla has always rejected. Part of the site lies in the water protection area. Initiatives have announced further protests against the car manufacturer. The Grünheide citizens’ initiative is also examining a lawsuit against the expansion together with environmental associations.