BERLIN -- Tesla said it had resumed tree cutting in Gruenheide, Germany, so it can construct its first European car and battery factory following moves by environmentalists to stop local deforestation.
"Tree clearance is proceeding in an orderly manner," Tesla said on Friday.
The U.S. electric carmaker last November said it will build a factory in Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg near Berlin, creating up to 12,000 jobs.
Tesla wants to start production in July, 2021, but environmentalists have exploited legal loopholes in the planning process to halt felling of trees until an environmental audit is finalized to gauge whether any rare species could be endangered.
A local court on Thursday stepped in and rejected environmentalist efforts to stop the land being cleared of trees, adding its ruling could not be appealed.
The court's decision was welcomed on Friday by Germany's industry association BDI and economy minister Peter Altmaier. "It's an important signal," Altmaier said on the sidelines of an event in Lithuania.
Lawmakers from Germany's pro-business Christian Democrat and Free Democrat parties had warned that the legal battle waged against the factory would inflict serious damage on Germany's image as a place to do business.
Activists from a group calling themselves the "Tree pirates" with the motto "Up with trees, down with capitalism" on Friday said it had occupied the forest to prevent Tesla from building its plant.
"The factory is here mainly to build sports utility vehicles," the group said in a statement on Friday. "Snob cars which kill people."
Tesla plans to build several models at the new plant starting with the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover, with more cars to follow.