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Tesla’s Musk seeks to allay water concerns at factory site after protests

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Tesla <TSLA.O> Chief Executive Elon Musk sought to allay environmental concerns about the electric carmaker’s planned factory in Germany, saying the plant would use less water than was estimated originally.

The U.S. company had said in planning documents that the factory would need 372 cubic meters of water from the public drinking water network per hour, sparking protests by local residents earlier this month.

“Sounds like we need to clear up a few things! Tesla won’t use this much net water on a daily basis. It’s possibly a rare peak usage case, but not an everyday event”, Musk said on Twitter on Saturday.

On another environmental issue, Musk tweeted that only a small part of the forest on the property that Tesla bought in the outskirts of Berlin will be cut to construct the planned factory.

“Also, this is not a natural forest — it was planted for use as cardboard,” he said.

The U.S. carmaker announced plans last November to build its first European car factory in Gruenheide, in the eastern state of Brandenburg.

Politicians, unions and industry groups have welcomed the move, saying it will bring jobs to the region, but environmental groups have aired concerns and a Brandenburg water association warned against “extensive and serious problems with the drinking water supply and wastewater disposal” for the proposed factory.

Separately, German business daily Handelsblatt reported on Sunday that Tesla had applied for subsidies for battery cell production and research in Germany.

Tesla had no immediate comment on the matter.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Helen Popper)