Farmer Nicolas Bardy spent 10 years fighting with his neighbours over a pile of manure.
Now, he’ll have to pay them a pile of cash.
France‘s top civil court has fined Bardy 8,000 euros (the equivalent of $11,700 CAD) for the overwhelming stench from his cows, which he kept in a barn the judge described as virtually underneath his neighbours’ “kitchen window.”
The ruling ends a decade-long legal battle between Bardy and his retired neighbours, who had accused him of unneighbourly conduct with the way he handled his livestock.
The neighbours had complained that Bardy was housing his manure-producing cows in an unauthorized building near the property line. They also complained about the stink from his stacked hay bales, which produced “strong irritating odours.”
The case went all the way to France’s top civil appeal court, where a judge found Bardy guilty of “abnormal neighbourly disorder,” the Guardian reports.
Bardy was ordered to pay 6,000 euros in damages and an additional 2,000 euros in legal fees.
“It’s stupidity pushed to its limits,” Bardy told La Montagne newspaper. He added that he’s already spent 10,000 euros on his own legal fees to fight the battle.
The judge acknowledged in his ruling that it’s not unusual for a farm to generate unpleasant odours. However, the judge ruled against Bardy due to the close proximity of the livestock building to the neighbours’ home.
The 39-year-old Bardy is the sixth generation in his family to raise cows near Lacapelle-Viescamp, a tiny hamlet in south-central France.
He expects he’ll have to move his livestock barn to accommodate the court ruling.
The case has ignited tensions along rural and urban lines in France, particularly among those eager to defend a fellow farmer. More than 12,000 people have signed a petition supporting Bardy’s now-failed battle over the barn.
“I find it unacceptable to force a farmer to move his operation knowing that this family must be there for several generations,” one user wrote.
Another user said he signed the petition “to make sure that b— s— has limits!”