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Horse trainer facing huge legal bills over land dispute

A RACEHORSE trainer is facing six-figure legal bills after winning less than £20,000 in compensation over thousands of tonnes of waste that was dumped illegally on his land.

Former jockey Donal Nolan had initially sought more than £6 million for the damage done after rubble containing traces of asbestos - the remains of a Lanarkshire primary school - was tipped on his Wishaw property.

However, a judge awarded him just a fraction of his claim against construction giant Advance, which was responsible for the waste, after declaring him to be a "wholly unreliable witness".

Lord Woolman at the Court of Session in Edinburgh reserved the question of expenses, meaning Mr Nolan, 64, may face bills far in excess of the compensation he received.

The judge found Mr Nolan had failed to accept reasonable offers by the company to remove the waste, which still lies on the land close to a housing scheme more than three years after it was dumped.

Lord Woolman said: "It is ­difficult to see what more Advance could have done. By failing to accept the offer made by Advance, Mr Nolan is the author of his own misfortune."

The saga began in November 2010 when contractors working on behalf of Advance tipped what is now known to be around 6000 tonnes of rubble on to the site, a former coal mine on Branchal Road, Cambusnethan in Wishaw.

Mr Nolan and his partner, ­Melanie Collins, only became aware that the rubble, from the demolished Coltness Primary, was being tipped when they saw trucks arriving on their land days after work began.

Advance - founded by tycoon Seamus Shields - said it had been duped into thinking it had the right to dump on the site by Jim Aitken, one of several men convicted of a Glasgow murder in the 1970s, and a former employee called William Edwards.

The company had hired two firms to tip the waste. The first was Ryan Plant Hire. The second was Doolin Plant Hire. Both it and its owner, Gary Doolin, have since been convicted of operating an illegal landfill at another former colliery in one of the most high-profile environmental crime cases of recent years.

Advance admitted dumping ­illegally and, the court heard, made several offers to remove the waste. It argued it had sought to dump the remains of Coltness Primary at the site in good faith, even fencing off the site and displaying its own logo.

Lord Woolman, however, found Mr Nolan to be a "remarkable witness" who "professed to know virtually nothing about the circumstances", referring all questions to Miss Collins.

He also found Miss Collins to be "unreliable" , "quick to impute dishonesty to other witnesses" and "inclined to be evasive when difficult questions were put to her."

He added: "I concluded Miss Collins' aim was to maximise the financial sum she could recover from Advance.

"That is why she adopted the unshakeable believe that any offer made by Advance was tainted.

"At best she failed to evaluate them in an objective manner. Her perspective was a tainted one."

Mr Nolan and Miss Collins had initially sued for £6.8m in compensation because they said the illegal tipping had jeopardised their plans to develop it for housing. They later reduced their claim.

Mr Shields, Advance's founder and managing director, yesterday said: "This has been a costly and frustrating episode, but despite this we have kept our eye on the ball and continued to grow the business."

Miss Collins, said last night: "There will be an appeal." Mr Nolan, who retired as a jockey a decade ago, was unavailable for comment.

However, when he first sued Advance, he said: "They've taken my land and, as they say in racing, I want a stewards' inquiry."

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