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A poster in Straßkrichen, Bavaria, advertising the BMW plant

Photo: Armin Weigel / dpa

The citizens of Straßkirchen in Lower Bavaria have cleared the way for a large battery plant of the car manufacturer BMW, in which 600,000 high-voltage batteries for electric cars are to be assembled per year. In a referendum on Sunday, a clear majority decided to support the settlement of the factory, as the municipality announced.

The citizens' initiative "Liveable Gäuboden" had forced the decision. The local council had previously clearly backed the settlement, which is expected to create 3200 jobs.

In detail, according to preliminary results, the council's request in favor of the settlement received 75.3 percent yes votes and 24.7 percent no votes. The petition, which was directed against the factory, received only 29.6 percent yes votes and 70.4 percent no votes. The two questions had been asked separately.

Central importance for electric car production

For BMW, the factory, which is now to be built on an area belonging to Straßkirchen and the neighboring town of Irlbach, is of central importance for the ramp-up of electric car production. From there, the vehicle plants in Dingolfing, 40 kilometers away, as well as Regensburg and Munich are to be supplied. The site is close to the A3 and A92 motorways. The large, heavy batteries could therefore also be transported directly to the car plants by e-trucks, and additional storage would be superfluous.

If the citizens had decided against the factory, the Munich-based carmaker would probably have moved to a location outside Bavaria, according to its own statements. Both the manufacturer, which is already an important employer in the region, and Bavarian politicians had pointed out the signal effect of the decision in advance. Even Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had campaigned for the settlement on Saturday at the party congress.

Opponents of the factory, on the other hand, had warned, among other things, of additional traffic, the loss of valuable arable land and an exacerbation of the shortage of skilled workers at domestic companies due to competition from new jobs at BMW.