Tesla seeks to build battery cells in Berlin

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(This Sept 23 story corrects headline, first and second paragraph to clarify that no application has been made for building battery cells)

BERLIN (Reuters) - Tesla is pressing ahead with plans to build its new factory in Germany and intends to build battery cells and battery packs at the site in Brandenburg, near Berlin, a spokesman for the U.S. carmaker said on Wednesday, after assurances it would not use too much water.

Tesla said on Thursday it would have to start a new approval process for battery production. Currently no timeline for this application has been communicated.

The Ministry for Agriculture, Environment, and Climate Protection in the State of Brandenburg is expected to formally approve the construction plans for the factory towards the end of the year once the relevant applications have been filed.

Environmentalists had expressed concerns about the plant but environmental authorities have received assurances on water usage, according to a local planning consultation panel.

A Tesla spokesman said the carmaker welcomed the assessment of the local water association that construction could proceed, though some environmentalists were still opposed to the plan.

“Tesla is like a falling meteorite. Something is being pushed down on us from above,” said Thomas Loeb, a member of the Ecological Democratic Party.

Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Elaine Hardcastle