BERLIN -- Tesla moved one step closer to opening its European plant after a German court rejected a bid by two environmental groups that would have prevented important tests from being carried out by the automaker.
The injunction, filed by the nature conservation associations Gruene Liga and NABU, sought to prevent preliminary functional testing of parts of the plant, which is under construction in Gruenheide just outside of Berlin.
The two groups filed the objection earlier this month, arguing Tesla had not sufficiently clarified the precautions it would take to prevent highly poisonous gas from escaping from the factory.
The Administrative Court of Frankfurt (Oder) rejected the emergency application of two environmental groups said on Tuesday that it had rejected the application, reported Automobilewoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
The planned testing includes equipment in the paint shop, foundry and body shop. In addition, installation of tanks for wastewater treatment and the refueling system have been approved in advance.
The court said it was not evident that the temporary functional tests would give rise to hazards within the context of the Major Accidents Ordinance.
The court noted that during the functional tests, only small quantities of substances hazardous to water would be used. Trial operation of the plant components did not pose a significant risk of releasing harmful emissions into the environmental, the court said.
The scope of the approval by the State Office for the Environment (LfU) only includes short-term commissioning of individual plant components for test purposes, and specifically excludes regular operational activities.
The conservationists can appeal against the decision to the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg (OVG).
The U.S. automaker wants to produce around 500,000 Model 3 and Model Y cars annually in Gruenheide.
The company still lacks the final environmental permit for the construction. The timing of the final decision is unclear.
Tesla has faced a series of setbacks on the road to opening the factory, with CEO Elon Musk personally expressing frustration by the complex regulation and red tape tangling up the opening of the plant.
Tesla recently lost a top manager from the plant, Marcel Jost, who was head of general assembly. Jost's departure follows that of Evan Horetsky, who was project manager of the plant until departing Tesla in October 2020.