IT buff wants to search landfill for £153m Bitcoin key he accidentally threw out

A man who says he chucked out a hard drive containing £150million of Bitcoin has told how his local council have blocked him from scouring a huge landfill to find it.

James Howells, 37, claims he accidentally tossed his 8,000 Bitcoins into landfill after mixing up two identical hard drives at his home in 2009.

And despite the credit card-sized piece of tech being among 110,000 tons of rubbish which has been grassed over, he has devoted his life to finding it.

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"Four times I've been to them and four times I've been ignored," he said of Newport City Council, in a chat with the Daily Mail. "They have not been co-operative at all."

"Many people have accidentally thrown away something they didn't mean to," James added. "The difference is that I'm the only one where it turned out to be a £400million mistake."

He bought the currency in 2009 when it was almost worthless – but the value has since soared, before dropping slightly. In November, the value stood at £459m.

Now he wants to spend £11m to hire a firm previously used by NASA boffins and use robot dogs to retrieve the fortune.

James told the Times: "This is the most professional operation we've put together.

"It's a serious proposal, we are capable of completing this task to a very high standard."

The Artificial Intelligence firm Ontrack's "dogs" were previously used to recover a hard drive from the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster.

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Experts at the firm believe up 90% of the Bitcoin fortune can be recovered.

If the stun works, James says he will transform the landfill site in Newport, Gwent, into a solar farm with wind turbines.

But Newport City Council said his latest proposal "pose significant ecological risk which we cannot accept, and are prevented from considering by the terms of our permit".

The council originally refused his bid to search the site in 2013 – and has consistently maintained that position since. They've also highlighted that there was "no guarantee" the hard drive was at the landfill site, and don't want to close the site for local residents.

James has now secured £10million in private funding and the support of Newport's former landfill site manager in his latest bid to retrieve the fortune.

Whether the hard drive is found or not, he promises the group "will leave [the site] in a better condition than when we arrived".

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