The British programmer, who accidentally threw out a hard drive with Bitcoin on it, again called on the local city authorities to allow him to look for it at the location of the landfill.

James Howells, a 35-year-old IT engineer from Newport, Wales, says he discarded the device while cleaning his home in 2013. He claims that he had two identical laptop hard drives and that he mistakenly connected the one that contains the cryptographic “private key” needed to access and spend his Bitcoins.

After all these years, Howells is still convinced that he will be able to recover Bitcoins. Although the outer part of the hard drive may be damaged and rusty, he believes that the glass plate inside is still intact.

There is a good chance that the board inside the plant is still intact,

he told CNBC.

Data recovery experts could then rebuild the drive or read the data directly from the board.

Howels says he had 7,500 Bitcoins that would be worth over $280 million at today’s prices. He says the only way to get back to him would be through the hard drive he threw in the trash eight years ago.

But he needs the permission of the local council to search for landfills that he believes contain lost hardware. The landfill is not open to the public and disturbing the property would be considered a criminal offense.

He offered to donate 25% of the total amount, worth about 70.8 million dollars, to the “Covid Relief Fund” for his hometown if he manages to dig a hard drive. He also promised to finance the excavation project with the support of an unnamed living fund.

But the Newport City Council has so far rejected his requests to inspect the landfill, citing environmental and funding concerns. And it doesn’t look like local officials will leave soon.

As far as I know, they have already turned down the offer

said Howells.

Without even hearing our action plan or without being given the opportunity to present our mitigation to our environmental problems, they simply keep saying no every time.

A council spokesman told CNBC that he had been “contacted several times since 2013 about the possibility of finding a piece of IT hardware said to contain Bitcoins”, and the first was “several months” after Howells first realized the drive disappeared.

The Council has told Mr Howels on several occasions that excavation is not possible under our permit, and excavation alone would have a huge impact on the environment.

he said to CNBC.

The cost of excavating the landfill, storing and treating the waste could cost millions of pounds – without any guarantee that it will be found or that it is still in good condition.

It’s not hard to imagine why Howells would want to save the equipment. Bitcoin prices have risen in recent months, reaching a high of close to $42,000 last week before a sharp withdrawal.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the developer in San Francisco was locked with 7,002 Bitcoins – today worth about 267.8 million dollars – because he forgot the password needed to unlock the small hard drive that contains the private key of the digital wallet.