The US electric car manufacturer Tesla, controlled by Elon Musk, continues to go full throttle at the so-called "Europa Gigafactory" planned in Grünheide - at full own risk.

Before the main approval process for the billion-euro project east of Berlin is completed, Tesla wants to build parts of the shell of the factory. The intended start of production in 2021 is to be secured.

The Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment confirmed on Monday that Tesla, along with amended documents on the previous application for approval under the Federal Immission Control Act for the factory, "has submitted another application for approval of the early start of measures (...) for parts of a shell".  

Start of construction at your own risk

"The application is being examined. At the time of approval, no statement can be made," said the ministry. So far, Tesla has already cleared 90 hectares of pine forest on the 300 hectare site with the green light of the Brandenburg authorities and has leveled the ground for the construction site at its own risk. 

In addition, the US company may carry out the first foundation work for its future fourth Gigafactory (GF4) worldwide. An early start of measures according to the Federal Immission Control Act (§8a) is possible and admissible if nothing speaks against the ability to obtain approval and the investor does it at his own risk.

That said, if the factory weren't approved, Tesla would have to get everything back to its original state. So far, three early measures have been approved, the Ministry says. The shell would be the fourth. Tesla has recently improved the main application for the gigafactory with an investment volume of 4 billion euros and up to 12,000 jobs, in which 500,000 vehicles are to roll off the assembly line each year. In the course of the detailed planning, it turned out that some factory buildings still had to be built on piles.  

No approval possible before September

At the same time, the application also reduced the information on the factory's forecast water consumption. The quantities of water supply and disposal were reduced by a third, said Brandenburg's Minister of Economics Jörg Steinbach (SPD) recently.

In the previous procedure, there were 370 objections after the first public interpretation. With the new Tesla application, a new interpretation of the changes follows. "When all documents have been checked and are complete, the interpretation will be published. We expect it to be published shortly," said the ministry.

The public discussion in the city hall of Erkner, which was planned in March and had to be postponed due to the corona pandemic, is now scheduled for September. No approval can be given beforehand for the Gigafactory in Grünheide. If there are arguments in Erkner about the pros and cons, the factory may already be in the shell.