With a big wheel, music and an appearance by CEO Elon Musk, Tesla is pulling out all the stops Saturday to win over opponents of the electric carmaker’s controversial new “gigafactory” near Berlin.

Long queues of people brought by special shuttle buses were already forming at the Gruenheide site of Tesla’s first European factory around 10 am.25-year-old local resident Dominic, an engineer said, “I wanted to take a look. Tesla’s a great, very innovative car manufacturer”.

Construction at the plant had  under an exceptional procedure granted by authorities two years ago, but opposition from locals over environmental concerns has held up final approval.

Demonstrators were already on the scene on Saturday morning, with a few people bearing signs like “Stop Tesla” and “water and forest aren’t for private profit” gathered around 100 metres from the site.

The company has laid on a big wheel, electronic music and vegetarian food trucks  an event conceived in the image of Berlin, Europe’s party capital.

“Tesla has to follow the same procedures as other companies,” the Green League campaign group said recently.Last year, work at the Tesla site was temporarily stopped after NGOs requested an injunction to protect the nearby natural habitat of endangered species of lizards and snakes while they were in their winter slumber.

On the same 300 hectare plot, Mr Musk also plans to build “the world’s biggest battery factory”.Mr Dudenhoeffer said ,The custom-built equipment should allow Tesla to “significantly reduce production costs”.

In the event that the factory is not approved, the carmaker will be compelled to dismantle the entire works at its own cost.First planned for July 2021, the start has already been pushed back to the end of this year as a result of the company’s administrative troubles.

Tesla was “irritated” by these setbacks, as it wrote in an open letter in March, in which the company called for a “reform” of Germany’s planning procedures.Despite the country’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are often slowed down by excess bureaucracy.

Berlin’s new international airport opened in October 2020, eight years later than first planned, while the construction of a new train station in Stuttgart is not yet finished, having begun in 2010.

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