Elon Musk’s company, , has hit a major roadblock in its plans to build a gigafactory in a small German town on the outskirts of Berlin. On Saturday, over 250 residents protested the plans, claiming that the factory would “steal” available water from locals and wreak havoc on wildlife in the area (via ).
When the U.S. car company first announced its plans in November to build its inaugural European car factory, the decision was welcomed by politicians, unions, and industry groups. Analysts claimed that the move would bring jobs to the Brandenburg region. However, environmentalists quickly took umbrage with the move.
Anne Bach, a 27-year-old eco-activist, claimed that Tesla would require more than 300 cubic meters of water per hour per their published report. Bach claimed that such an amount of water would be a drain on the area’s eco-system. In addition, creating space for the factory would require the deforestation of over 740 acres.
“I am not against Tesla… But it’s about the site; in a forest area that is a protected wildlife zone. Is this necessary?” Bach said.
Other experts also highlighted potential health hazards of the factory. On Thursday, the Brandenburg water association warned that the proposed factory had “extensive and serious problems with the drinking water supply and wastewater disposal.”
Those who attended the protest chanted slogans about Tesla’s potential to curtail access to water — which was the villainous plot in the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
“We are here, we are loud, because Tesla is stealing our water,” protesters shouted.
That said, there was also a counter-protest on the other side of the road. Though smaller in numbers, some other residents of Gruenheide cried slogans of welcome to the U.S. automaker.
“We are here, we are loud, because Tesla is building our future,” some children chanted.
One of the counter-protestors was Bernd Kutz, a Gruenheide local. He said that he supported the factory in the hopes that Tesla would help give new life to the dying region by creating new jobs and offering opportunities to young people.
“I am here because I don’t understand those demonstrators who shout and show us the finger,” Kutz said. “Why has it always to be negative?”
Tesla is not the only foreign company that has caused controversy in Germany over the past few months. Chinese company Huawei has threatened severe retaliation against the country if politicians take measures to ban its 5G network due to security concerns, as was previously reported by .