FRANKFURT (Reuters) -A German court called a halt to tree felling at the site of Tesla’s proposed manufacturing site near Berlin, reversing a lower court ruling in a tortuous legal battle over the construction of its Gigafactory.

Earlier this week, environmentalists went to court in the eastern city of Frankfurt an der Oder in an attempt to stop Tesla clearing a forest, arguing that cutting down more trees could endanger hibernating snakes. [L8N2IO1OV]

A higher regional administrative court found in favour of the plaintiffs, who had appealed an earlier rejecting the environmentalists’ arguments on the grounds that Tesla had taken sufficient measures to protect the reptiles.

The temporary halt should allow the court to review the case on its merits before the tree felling is completed, the Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court said in a statement.

Tesla’s permission to start construction depends on a conditional approval by local authorities, who are obliged to consult environmental groups and the community.

A lower regional court in Frankfurt an der Oder earlier reviewed a complaint by environmental group NABU, which argued that snakes and sand lizards could be put at risk by Tesla’s plans.

(Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik, writing by Edward Taylor, editing by Emma Thomasson, Mark Potter and Tom Brown)

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