France’s illegal dumping ‘scourge’

The death of a mayor from a town in the south of France has drawn attention to what has been dubbed a nationwide “scourge” – the illegal dumping of waste along roadsides, fields and forests across the country.

On Monday Jean-Mathieu Michel, mayor of Signes in the Var southern France was killed after allegedly being run over by two men in a van that he found dumping construction waste by the roadside.

Michel reportedly asked the men to reload the rubble. They agreed, but hit the 76-year-old as they drove off. The van driver, who claims it was an accident, has been placed under formal investigation.

But the problem of illegal dumping, or fly-tipping, is widespread across France, according to officials and environmental campaign groups – even though no official figures exist.

One of the most notorious sites is at Carrières-sous-Poissy, near Paris, where authorities say more than 7,000 tonnes of rubbish have been dumped.

“It is a real scourge which costs between 340 and 420 million euros a year to local authorities which has, in the end, an impact on taxpayers,” France’s junior ecology minister, Brune Poirson, said Friday.