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French mayor ‘returns’ 10 tonnes of illegal waste

A man in northern France who illegally dumped 10 tonnes of rubbish in a local field has had the items returned by the mayor less than 48 hours later.

The fly tipper in the Oise (‎Hauts-de-France) was identified thanks to council security cameras installed in the area, and a video taken by a council worker who happened to be nearby at the right time, according to reports from local newspaper Le Courrier Picard.

The rubbish - which included bed frames, plastic seats, metal frames, armchairs, wooden doors, door frames, mattresses, and sofas - weighed 10 tonnes, and was dumped between the communes of Laigneville and Rousseloy overnight between Saturday January 4 and Sunday 5.

The driver of the van that dumped the rubbish will now be fined at least €4,000, the council said.

Mayor of Laigneville, Christophe Dietrich, published a video on Facebook of the rubbish strewn over the field, explaining that it would be “returned to sender at home”, less than 48 hours after it was dumped.

Five vans full of the waste drove to the individuals’ home address, and dumped the waste outside, to punish the perpetrator and force them to dispose of the contents responsibly.

(Warning: The video below contains some expletives in French.)

In the video, Mr Dietrich said: “Since 2014, we have been hunting down the illegal dumping of waste...As these individuals were filmed, we had no trouble identifying the business [behind it]. Whatever happens, they will not escape punishment.”

He added: “They will see [a fine] of [at least] five times €800, because each pick-up van is billed at €800, so they will receive [a fine] of €4,000, in light of the fact that we needed 10 men from technical services, and five vehicles to bring this man back his belongings.

The mayor reminded people that there are cameras in the area, that authorities would continue to act against illegal dumping, and that he had “no problem” hunting down perpetrators and returning their waste back to them.


A rubbish issue

Mr Dietrich is not the first mayor to take similar action against illegal waste.

In January last year, a mayor in Côtes-d'Armor (Brittany) returned a pile of "Christmas rubbish" back to its owner, with a note reading: "These boxes, wrapping paper and leftover food [must have fallen] off Father Christmas’ sleigh when he was leaving your house. To help repair his error, I thought it would be useful to bring them back to you."

And in September 2018, a mayor in Ille-et-Vilaine reported a similar incident after a homeowner dumped rubbish including what appeared to be a large microwave.

Illegal fly-tipping in nature is a growing problem all over France, prompting the government to launch a range of measures in 2018 to tackle the estimated 80,000 tonnes of excess waste that is dumped in the countryside every year.

Fly tipping is illegal, and can be punished by a fine of between €68 and €1,500 - but this is often not enforced.

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