Elon Musk's Newest Foe: Sleeping Snakes

Construction on hold at site of German gigafactory
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2020 4:18 PM CST
Tesla Faces Setback Over Hibernating Snakes
Felled trees lie on the construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday.   (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

Tesla is hoping to have its first European factory up and running by July. But that plan was in doubt Tuesday after a German court ordered the company to stop clearing a forest on the proposed site in Gruenheide, south of Berlin. The reason: sleeping snakes. As Reuters and the Guardian report, a local chapter of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union is concerned that destruction of the forest will endanger Coronella austriaca snakes, also known as smooth snakes, that may be hibernating in the ground. There is also some concern about the effect on sand lizards that may be in the vicinity.

The administrative court in Frankfurt an der Oder said an injunction was issued Monday "imposing a temporary halt" to the clearing of 205 acres of pine trees, per the Guardian. On Tuesday, a court spokesperson said Tesla and the state environmental authority were "to make submissions by this afternoon and then we assess the situation," per Reuters. Tesla had been clearing the site for pipelines and storage before receiving final authorization for construction, per the Guardian. It has been ordered to stop work on the future car plant and what could become the world's largest battery factory twice already this year, once relating to environmental concerns, and once to allow for uncovered bombs to be defused. (More Tesla stories.)

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