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Published on December 1st, 2019 | by Steve Hanley


The Devil In The Details: Gigafactory 4 Permitting Process Begins

December 1st, 2019 by  

When Elon Musk announced last month that Gigafactory 4 would be built in the German state of Brandenburg, the first question on everyone’s mind was whether it could be completed and start production in the record-smashing 10 months of its Chinese counterpart in Shanghai. Local officials expressed confidence that the approval process would more forward as rapidly as possible, but there are cultural differences between Germany and China that may make the process in Germany a little longer. As of this moment, construction is expected to start sometime in the first half of next year, according to Heise Online.

The first order of business is to meet the requirements of the Federal Emission Control Act, which guards against harmful effects on the environment, including air pollution and noise. The primary licensing authority is the State Office for the Environment, but there are several layers of bureaucracy going down to the local level.

Rolf Lindemann, administrator of the Oder-Spree district, tells the German press agency his office is prepared to move quickly once Tesla files the proper planning documents. “We stand rifle by foot. When the first planning documents arrive tomorrow, we start immediately. Every day we count on the receipt of the first documents. Despite the ambitious timetable, the legal framework must be adhered to. Nothing should go wrong, otherwise you may have a formal mistake.”

Some urge caution, however. “No citizens or nature conservation associations have yet been included in the project,” said Friedhelm Schmitz-Jersch, National Chairman of the Brandenburg Nature Conservation Union. His group is concerned that all due regard is given to protecting the flora and fauna that will be affected by construction of the factory.

Lindemann says some question whether his office has enough staff to conduct the required reviews expeditiously. He says the district has already hired an additional engineer, while fire safety issues will be handled by local planning offices and other staff could be borrowed on a temporary basis from other district departments. “In addition, there are discussions with our neighboring district of Dahme-Spreewald, which has experience with the major expansion of the Berlin airport.” That last part may be cold comfort to Tesla fans. The airport project is years behind schedule.

Lindemann is not worried. “There is already a development plan for this type of industrial use,” he says, referring to preliminary plans filed by BWM last year before it decided to build its proposed new factory in Saxony instead of Brandenburg.

The takeaway is that the pace of construction will probably not be as torrid as it was in Shanghai, but it appears everyone at the state and local level is prepared to move things along as quickly as possible. Right now, the first Model Y vehicles should begin rolling off the assembly line in 2021. When in 2021 is still open to question. 

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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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