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Activists build treehouses to protest Tesla's plans to expand its plant near Berlin

BERLIN (AP) — Environmental activists are staging a protest in a forest near Berlin against plans to expand the grounds of electric carmaker Tesla's first plant in Europe and are vowing to stay in place for weeks.

Between 80 and 100 activists have been camping in the forest since early Thursday, according to an initiative called “Stop Tesla.” They put up tents and built treehouses, some of them several meters above the ground — a tactic used in previous German environmental protests.

Police have decided that the demonstration can continue until at least March 15 and are keeping an eye on what is going on, but see no need to break up the protest camp, German news agency dpa reported Friday.

Tesla opened the factory in Gruenheide, just outside Berlin, in March 2022 — launching a challenge to German automakers on their home turf.

The company now wants to expand the facility to add a freight depot, warehouses and a company kindergarten. Those plans would entail felling more than 100 hectares (247 acres) of forest.

That has drawn opposition from environmentalists and some other local groups, who also worry about possible effects on the area's water supply. In a nonbinding vote in mid-February, residents of the Gruenheide municipality rejected Tesla's plans, which still need approval by local authorities.

About 12,500 people work at the plant.

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