Court again stops Tesla felling trees for German plant

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German court called a halt on Thursday to tree felling at the site of Tesla's proposed manufacturing site near Berlin, reversing a lower court ruling in a tortuous legal battle over the construction of its Gigafactory.


 Court again stops Tesla felling trees for German plant

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German court called a halt on Thursday to tree felling at the site of Tesla's proposed manufacturing site near Berlin, reversing a lower court ruling in a tortuous legal battle over the construction of its Gigafactory.

Earlier this week, environmentalists went to court in the eastern city of Frankfurt an der Oder in an attempt to stop Tesla clearing a forest, arguing that cutting down more trees could endanger hibernating snakes. [L8N2IO1OV]

A higher regional administrative court found in favour of the plaintiffs, who had appealed an earlier rejecting the environmentalists' arguments on the grounds that Tesla had taken sufficient measures to protect the reptiles.

The stop-go legal battle has exposed cultural differences over the meaning of environmental protection, pitting Tesla founder Elon Musk's vision of emissions-free mobility against environmentalists' attempts to protect the local habitat.

Under German law, it can be easy to win an order to halt work on a construction project. But it does not necessarily signify the courts will ultimately find in the plaintiffs' favour on the substantive matter at hand.

The temporary halt should allow the court to review the case on its merits before the tree felling is completed, the Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court said in a statement.

Tesla's permission to start construction depends on a conditional approval by local authorities, who are obliged to consult environmental groups and the community.

A lower regional court in Frankfurt an der Oder earlier reviewed a complaint by environmental group NABU, which argued that snakes and sand lizards could be put at risk by Tesla's plans.

(Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik, writing by Edward Taylor, editing by Emma Thomasson, Mark Potter and Tom Brown)

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