Photo: Ministry of Economy, Labor and Energy of Brandenburg
The Brandenburg Minister of Economics seeks to speed up the approval process for industrial projects in the state using Tesla's experience. Since investors are annoyed by the lengthy approval procedures inherent in the German state apparatus, he would like to simplify the law on approval.
The slow German bureaucratic process is known around the world. Now, this issue is drawing wider attention, as the construction of Tesla’s new electric vehicle factory is delayed. While the Californian manufacturer planned to start production as early as July 2021, due to the long and unnecessarily repetitive approval steps, production may not begin until the end of the year. Such a delay is hampering Tesla's plans, demonstrating to investors around the world that Germany is not a good place to invest.
At the moment, the third round of public participation in the approval of the factory’s construction is ongoing. Although Tesla made changes to improve upon the project—which included a consideration of earlier-received criticism—it again has to endure delays so that everything can be revisited again. Such a process is unnecessarily delayed for long periods, preventing investors from launching their projects quickly. This is especially problematic when we consider the alarming state of affairs with climate change.
The Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Energy Jörg Steinbach, a man who genuinely cares about the development of the region, wants to learn from Tesla's experience in an effort to make Brandenburg attractive to investors. “In terms of the approval process, a process like the one we are currently doing with Tesla should be assessed at the end of the entire time period. What was going well and what was not, and what are the resulting needs for change?"
Assessing the experience with Tesla, Steinbach came up with two very specific ideas with which he wants to save time on validation in future projects in the state. First, the authorities should closely monitor changes in investor plans. "If it turns out that you are making a process change that results in less environmental impact, then the question is whether you need to start all the individual steps over again—or you can intelligently integrate this into the current process." This would mean that companies do not have to go through all approval procedures from zero when making improvements to the project. “I think a big acceleration is possible here,” Steinbach said.
The second important proposal is to ensure fewer legal hurdles. For large investors like Tesla, lengthy administrative court proceedings are a time factor that is difficult to foresee. For example, in 2020, environmental associations were able to temporarily suspend tree clearance work in Grünheide. Despite the fact that a later decision was made in favor of Tesla, the company lost valuable time due to this process. To ensure that such lengthy court decisions do not stall the implementation of major projects, Steinbach suggests that plaintiffs go straight to the higher administrative court. Thus, one stoppage on the trial will be eliminated.
Steinbach thinks that if ambitious large-scale projects like Tesla’s Giga Berlin are delayed, investors may wonder if Germany and Brandenburg are good places to invest. “When investors come to us, the issues of approval procedure and scheduling times are very critical,” he said.
© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.