In a notable development, Newport resident James Howells has found himself entangled in a contentious battle with the Newport City Council. The core of this dispute does not revolve around conventional riches like gold or precious gemstones, but rather centers on the retrieval of a compact hard drive housing a substantial digital fortune comprising approximately 8,000 Bitcoins.
For those unacquainted with the world of cryptocurrency, it is important to highlight that each individual has a significant monetary value, exceeding £20,700 at the time of this report. Consequently, the collective worth of the aforementioned hard drive reaches an astonishing £160 million.
Nevertheless, a substantial hurdle stands between Mr. Howells. Specifically, he has persistently sought authorization from the Newport City Council to conduct an exploration within the precincts of a landfill site, where he believes this valuable hard drive to be buried. Mr. Howells contends that this storage device, mistakenly discarded by his former partner in 2013, has started an ongoing quest for its retrieval.
Regrettably, Mr. Howells’ appeals for access to the landfill site have encountered repeated refusal by the Newport City Council. Their rationale points to constraints associated with environmental permits, alongside skepticism regarding the feasibility of locating a relatively tiny hard drive within the huge mounds of refuse.
In response to the council’s refusal, Mr. Howells has hinted at the prospect of initiating legal proceedings should the council persist in denying him access. In a communication addressed to the Newport City Council, he voiced his frustration with what he perceives as the council’s reluctance to engage in substantive discourse.
He disclosed his intention to enlist legal counsel, inclusive of esteemed barristers Dean Armstrong KC, Bruce Drummond, and Maria Mulla, who stand prepared to elevate the matter to the High Court and potentially the Supreme Court if circumstances necessitate.
Furthermore, Mr. Howells is resolute in his assertion of ownership rights over the Bitcoins in question, concurrently advocating for a search protocol that upholds environmental integrity, without incurring financial burdens upon the council.
Yet, Mr. Howells is well aware of the uncertainty pertainingabouttion of the hard drive, should it be located. It may well be intact, irreparably fragmented, or concealed beneath layers of refuse. The outcome remains shrouded in uncertainty; nevertheless, Mr. Howells is unwavering in his determination to pursue this endeavor. He has imposed a deadline of September 18, which serves as an ultimatum to the council to accede to his appeals before he proceeds with legal action.
Conversely, the Newport City Council maintains a steadfast stance on this matter. They attest to having fielded multiple entreaties from Mr. Howells since 2013, each of which has been met with categorical refusal grounded in environmental and regulatory considerations.
James said: “We could find it and it could be cracked into a million pieces. I accept that. But we could find it and it could be stuck under something and be fine – that is just as likely. We just don’t know.”
Whether Mr. Howells shall ultimately be afforded allowed on his quest for digital wealth, or if this treasure shall remain concealed beneath layers of bureaucratic red tape and landfill detritus, may be determined within the halls of the judiciary.
A Newport City Council spokesperson said: “Newport City Council has been contacted multiple times since 2013 about the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins, which may or may not be in our landfill site.”
“The council has told Mr Howells multiple times that excavation is not possible under our environmental permit, and that work of that nature would have a huge negative environmental impact on the surrounding area. The council is the only body authorized out operations on the site.”
“We have been very clear and consistent in our responses that we cannot assist Mr Howells in this matter. Our position has not changed. We will be offering no further comments on this issue as it takes up valuable officer time which could be spent on delivering services for the residents of Newport.”