Tesla has received support in expediting the construction approval of Giga Berlin from the German traffic light coalition. Politicians cite Tesla's factory approval process as an example and call for further procedures to be completed faster by reducing unnecessary steps.
In German politics, the traffic light coalition is a coalition government of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Alliance 90/The Greens. The coalition outlined initial ideas for faster approval procedures so that future projects don't face the same delays as Tesla or other environmental projects that will develop there. According to SPD member of the Bundestag Mathias Stein, repeated interpretations, cycles of objections and answers, which, for example, greatly slowed down the approval process for the construction of Giga Berlin, should be avoided in the future. "Therefore, we stipulated in the coalition agreement that citizen participation procedures should no longer be repeated in full after plan changes in the current approval procedure," said the deputy representative for transport policy of the SPD parliamentary group to Handelsblatt. He added: "Instead, we are pursuing a more pragmatic approach, in that only newly affected parties are involved and objections are only permissible against changes to the plan."
These considerations were welcomed by the SPD coalition partners. "Even with the projects that have been going well so far, we need to see where we can get even better," said Handelsblatt Dieter Janecek. He sees accelerated planning as one of the central projects of the new federal government. This is essential for the success of the energy transition and the environmental transformation of the German economy.
Liberals made similar statements. "The FDP is accessible to everything that speeds up and simplifies the process and does not happen at the expense of third parties," said Handelsblatt Daniel Föst, building and housing spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, adding: "Even during the process and construction, we need to be more flexible."
Janecek suggested: "To do this, we need flexible processes with which we can also respond in a non-bureaucratic way to changing plans or framework conditions." In addition, formal errors should be better "curable" in the current process.
The precursor for the development of this topic in Germany was the delay in the start of production at the Tesla plant in Brandenburg. Although the construction there is almost completed, and the manufacturer is already testing production, there is still no final approval from the responsible State Office for the Environment (LfU). Following changes to the plan last year, the entire approval process had to be restarted, including a public hearing, which delayed approval by more than six months.
It was recently revealed that Tesla will not be able to start production at Giga Berlin earlier than mid-March because the authorities will again be checking the factory's safety precautions. The manufacturer has changed the amount of toxic chemicals that can be released in accidents in an attempt to best improve safety, but now the testing process must be redone.
Last year, Tesla highlighted the downsides of the lengthy approval process. The company pointed out that the German system for the approval of industrial and infrastructure projects, as well as territorial planning, directly contradicts the urgency of planning and implementing projects needed to combat climate change. The main essence of the problem was that in the current procedures and laws, projects that fight climate change and those that accelerate it are treated equally.
Brandenburg Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach, who is a clear supporter of the Tesla settlement, has already advocated for reforming Germany's planning law in July 2021. The topic of slow approval affects not only Tesla but also the expansion and modernization of transmission networks in the electric power industry. "The routes have been complained about here for years, with the result that we have an expansion rate that every land snail surpasses," he said at that time, adding, "We just can’t afford something like that if we want to become climate neutral."
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