German court halts site preparation for Tesla factory

A German court has temporarily halted the site preparation for Tesla Inc.’s first electric car factory in Europe.

The Higher Administrative Court for Berlin-Brandenburg ordered Tesla to stop clearing trees on the wooded site near Berlin until it considers an environmental group’s appeal. In a statement Sunday, the court said it had to issue the injunction because otherwise Tesla might have completed the work over the next three days.

A lower court in Germany ruled last week that Tesla could clear the trees for its factory. But the environmental group Green League Brandenburg appealed, citing the potential for the factory to pollute the area’s drinking water and other issues. In its statement, the higher court said there is no reason to assume that the Green League’s appeal won’t succeed.

German officials celebrated in November when Palo Alto, California-based Tesla decided to build its first European factory in the country. Tesla said the new plant will build batteries and vehicles, starting with the upcoming Model Y SUV. The company had hoped to complete the factory in the middle of next year.

Last month, German officials said 187 pounds of World War II ammunition had been found at the site as Tesla began clearing it.

Tesla has two other vehicle factories in the U.S. and China.

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