THE boss of a recycling firm fined a record £200,000 for illegally storing waste just 400 yards from residential homes ran from court in an attempt to avoid TV cameras.
Dressed in a beanie hat with his scarf pulled tight around his face, Gary Doonin, of Doonin Plant Ltd, fled the court after the hearing.
The 47-year-old, who has been branded “one of Scotland’s worst environmental offenders”, and his company were found guilty at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday of four separate offences under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 relating to the illegal storage of hundreds of tonnes of waste at Woodend Colliery near Armadale.
Car tyres, carpets, clothes, mail, electrical components, metal and timber were uncovered during excavations after complaints from local residents sparked a major investigation.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) inspectors described it as the biggest illegal dump they had ever seen. Doonin was warned that if he caused any further pollution he faced prison – the fine is the largest ever imposed in Scotland for a breach of environmental regulations.
Outside the courtroom Doonin claimed he was a victim of “persecution” by officials and that he intended to appeal the convictions and the fine.
He insisted: “I’ve done nothing wrong. There’s nobody dead and nobody lost any limbs. My record is impeccable.
“At that time I had ten waste management licence exemptions which allowed me to store up to 100,000 tonnes of waste.”
Doonin then waited for TV cameras to leave before fleeing to his car.
Passing sentence, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch said the fact the firm had been fined for a similar offence only a few months before and had previous convictions showed a “blatant disregard” for the law.
He said: “Any fine must be enough to bring the message home – not only to the company but also to others – that statutory provisions designed to protect the environment must be taken seriously.”
Commenting on the sentencing, SEPA area manager, Ian Buchanan, said: “The sentence is a positive result for the public and legitimate waste operators who have been undermined by the actions of Mr Doonin.”