Real camps have been set up with hammocks, tree houses up to 11 meters high, and banners: in Germany, a group of around a hundred environmentalists has occupied a natural area that is set to be destroyed in favor of a new wing of the Gigafactory, the Tesla factory which represents the main industrial hub in Europe for Elon Musk’s car company. The headquarters, which could accommodate up to 12 thousand employees and produce up to 500 thousand cars per year, should soon be expanded into an adjacent area, intended to house a goods station, warehouses, and a company nursery. However, to build the plant it would be necessary to deforest approximately 120 hectares of forest belonging to a drinking water protection area and for this reason, the activists of the “Stop Tesla” and “Robin Wood” movement decided to occupy the area. The action would also follow the outcome of a non-binding referendum in which almost two-thirds of the citizens of Grünheide spoke out against the expansion of the factory.

By Roberto Demaio – L’Indipendente

A masked activist in the woods. Credit: Picture Alliance/dpa/Patrick Pleul

“We want to prevent the destruction of the area. The longer the occupation lasts the better,” said two spokespersons for the initiative. Many activists are covered with hoods and scarves and have been camping in the area for days thanks to the availability of hot water bottles and improvised shelters built a few hours after the start of the mobilization. The police, for now, have decided to keep a low profile: they commented that the protests could continue until at least March 15 [2024], announcing that, to avoid any danger, a notice of limitation is being worked on which could consist of a ban on access to the nearby railway facilities. The definitive confirmation on the possible development and expansion of the factory, however, should arrive in May from the city council.

Banners were then hung with slogans such as “Water is a human right”, “Forest instead of the monster factory” and “Clean cars are a dirty lie”, accompanied by posters on the consequences of lithium extraction for batteries: these are the complaints exposed by German activists, who ask that Tesla, the Municipality and the government do everything possible to stop the expansion of the factory and promote a transition of means of mobility. Furthermore, the action would also follow the result of a survey among residents of Grünheide – the municipality where the company is located – which saw almost two-thirds of participants express themselves against the planned expansion and is supported by the Grünheide popular initiative, [whose spokesperson] said to be “surprised” by the campaign while inviting Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke to visit the camp and speak to the occupiers.

Finally, among the disputed measures is the disposal of wastewater, which according to some measurements has exceeded certain critical values. “The local people here are being robbed of their water. And moreover, where raw materials for cars come from, people are exposed to abuse,” said another activist spokesperson.

The original article can be found here