Is this right?!

We had a knock at the door yesterday from Gendarmes.We have a river outside our house,a month ago we spotted a upturned table trapped in overhanging trees close to turned out to be a picnic table,so we got it out.It looked like it had been in the river a long time.The Gendarme says somebody has reported us and that it belonged to a local campsite,they would be collecting it and we will get a fine. (what have we done)???

lol Doreen!

I thank you for all your replys,as it stands ,they have taken the table back.I do not think i will hear anymore of it,but not sure either.According to the house plan our boundary goes halfway into the river.I know i cannot own a river.if i see anything else in there,it can stay there.

ps I also found a log in there ,i use this in the garden,should i hand it in.

I gues finders keepers losers weepers ...dont work here then ? !! ;0)

I have found the oppersite of what others are saying in my village ... I have a river running through my land and when we arrived the bank was head high with brambles , having worked for british water ways in my past I knew better than to spray with chemicals and set about clearing 300foot with stimmers and hand cutters , after a couple of days some one must of seen me and told the council men , who turned up to help me with very strong weed killer ...I tried to stop them , but to no avail ... and i didnt want to seem rude as they had come to help..... I few years later I wanted some stone to repatch a stone wall and asked them if there was any on the dump they have .... he looked at me like i was mad and said you have a river full of stones take from there .... they spray the road sides with weed killer near all the street drains which run into the river and have no idea at all about protecting wildlife here at all...... the river has trout that goes upstream and they fish there ....but still spray weed killer about !!!

As to taking things from the river that fall in , all i have to do is ask and they come and unblock at any time,

As to trees in rivers, I think that there is a difference between one that falls across a river, remains attached to the bankl, where the tree remains the property of the person to whom the land belongs from which the tree fell, and the tree that falls into the river and floats down. All I know is that we had a large oak that fell from the far side of the river onto our field but the roots remained "in terra". We asked the land owner to move it and they did nothing. A couple of years later a team came along to clear the river, cut the tree on the other side and pulled the whole lot onto our side of the river - where we cut it up for firewood.

We have experienced the same as Lesley - we were keen to remove a dead tree from the river for firewood, but the Maire told us there is a law which says even if the tree would cause flooding, we are not allowed to remove it - sigh - silly rule but perhaps relating to property laws?

But I had two thoughts:
- can you say it wasn't you - that someone came and offered to remove the table and take it away
or - can you 'counter-claim' - for having to remove the rubbish of someone else which ended up on your property without your permission and caused possible damage to your tree? I know it seems a little childish, but sometimes if you are bold and fight back, the case is dropped against you.

And from now on, remove any rubbish and debris after dark when noone can identify you.

Our rivers are cleaned by a gang of volunteers who drink copious amounts of wine all morning then move off for a large free lunch!

Whatever the fine amounts to send a bill for the same amount to the campsite for retrieval and storage…simples…

We also live on a river but our position is slightly complicated as the "rubbish" does not go down the river itself but comes down the leet that leads to our mill. We have never had anything as valuable as a table (yet) but the rubbish that comes down is, as far as I am concerned, our responsibility to clear - and we do. We have had several visits from the river authorities asking whether we control the sluices etc, they have seen the piles of wood etc that come down in a high water time, and never commented.

We have also had the people clearing the banks, they cut down saplings etc, leave them on the bank so that they then wash down the river the next time we get high water!

As to weed killering, there is a notice in our Mairie that states that it is forbidden to use any chemical weedkiller anywhere within 5 metres of a watercourse.

My view of your case is that, as others have suggested, the table was now on your property, you had not (I assume) made any attempt to find the owner and, therefore, could be accused of "taking with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the use thereof". However, I feel that it is taking matters a tad far.

We are in the Ariege 09 and our commune is St Lary. As said we cannot move wooden debris or natural debris [including stones] in or from the river. Our neighbour was told quite explicitly that he was not allowed under any circumstances whatsoever to move a large tree stump that had been washed down to lodge against his house in spring this year - it is still there and no sign of it rotting or moving a millimetre for some time. Fortunately the river is not blocked by the stump but I do know that trees that came down the river and broke a weir nearby are actuaklly still there - they had to re-build the weir around them about 2 years ago!!!. Ask at your mairie Debbie and do not worry because as said there may be very different rules in different communes. We have a village odd job man that cuts the weeds next to the river banks and he removes things like tin cans, plastic buckets, a tyre a metal framed garden chair that I have seen so far in 6 years but never wood or anything natural - lots of stuff gets washed in when the river swells. All un-natural items removed very quickly by the odd job man but I have no idea where they ended up - likely the local tip.

Debbie clearly your commune has a team of river maintenance folk that keep the waterways flowing well and properly - sounds great!

It should be possible to oppose or "contester" your fine. I'm just not sure how to go about it because all the government websites I found spoke of automobile related PV. I would consult a lawyer on the matter. Here's some info regarding where you might be able to have access to FREE legal advice in your area (May be restricted to French-speaking help).
Wishing you luck!

I used to work in a profession where I studied certain laws and used to frame charges against people, unfortunately the law does not always look at things in the same way that we tend to see them.

I think you will find that they are taking the approach that the table was found in a tree in the river, you recovered the table but regardless of where the table was found and how it got there, the table was still the property of the campsite. Therefore, by not returning the table you have in effect made the decision to make it your own..this they would deem to be theft. Example: If a thief steals someone’s bicycle and then chucks it into a river where they abandon it, if I then come along, find the bike and decide to take it from the river, I should legally take all efforts to find the rightful owner. How on earth it got there in the first place and who decided to tell the campsite and the police is beyond me.

Rgds, Mike L

LOL! Nice one Centurion!

In a similar vein we had a visit from the environmental police some while ago. Apparently I had broken the law designed to protect water courses by weed killing alongside an old building on our property which bordered the road & was within 1m of a drain. I asked if it was OK to use the same product in my garden to which they replied "yes". I then pointed out that the drain was mine & was connected to by the council to alleviate flooding problems when they resurfaced & raised the height of the road. The drain discharged in my garden with the nearest water course some km's away. They said it didn't matter as the law was clear & I was using weed killer within 1m of a drain. I asked "if I fitted a similar drain in my bedroom & put weed killer in it would the same rule apply" They scratched their heads, shrugged & went away!

Does anyone have a link to the rules? We have a river with a millpond that runs right through our property and occasionally trees come down across the river and partially dam it up so we remove them - should we no do that? Also a team of what seemed to be river maintenance people came by and did some tidying up around the river and millpond and asked us whether we actually ever did any maintenance/tidying - which of course we do, but now not sure where we stand!!

You haven't said what offence you are being accused of, but if it is the criminal offence of theft then you of course have option to plead not-guilty, so unless and until the case is proved, you can't be fined.

I don't know the ins and outs of the French "Theft Act", but I suspect the points to prove will be similar to English Law and although there are several points to consider the one most pertinent to your situation relates to "theft by finding". If one finds anything of value anywhere, the street, a car park, a shop, a river bank, the finder has to show that he/she took "reasonable" steps to trace the owner. The word "reasonable" is open to interpretation .

However, maybe The Gendarmes are looking at some completely different offence to do with salvage etc.

When they re-landscaped our village square we liberated some nice old roses which were being chucked out and some fantastic granite kerb stones which I have since found out are pretty expensive. However the municipal team actually delivered them to our garden with a tractor so I suppose it's OK (a few years ago!). All the pallets used in the works were also liberated every evening by locals rather in the manner of Whisky Galore. Believe it or not they were importing chinese granite stones when we have quarries with the same stuff just here.

There are really strange rule related to rivers and what you can move/take out of them. We too have 2 rivers in our village and one of them passes underneath our windows so we were interested to learn that the rules in our commune say that if something natural is blocking the river we have no rights whatsoever to remove or even move it - so a tree could fall down, block the river and it cannot be moved but has to rot naturally. If however a table or plastic bucket [which I managed to let go of into the river] can be removed as it is not a natural product and a detriment to the environment.

Your commune clearly has different rules to ours _ in fact almost the oposite! I would contact your mayorie and enquire exactly what the situation in your commune is - and as far as the fine is concerned - if it ever materialises, I would tell them to go and whistle for it.

Good luck

All you can do is plead ignorance of whatever law you've fallen foul of. Not as if you stole it from the campsite. Next time you find a table in a tree (or a stool in a shrubbery) just alert the outdoor furniture rescue service? (Or, more seriously, the Mairie?). There's a patch of land near our house which has been used for dumping rubble and the like. There is now a No Dumping sign up. I suggested to my wife that we take away some of the dumped stuff for the garden. She thinks it's a good idea but that we should check with the Mairie first "just in case" as it'd be sod's law that the "rubbish" suddenly belongs to someone!

Or chuck it back in the river.