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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Middle Pocket up in arms over proposed distillery

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Residents of the Middle Pocket sent a clear message to the Byron shire council on Saturday when they came out in force to oppose the distillery currently under consideration by the council. Photo supplied.
Residents of the Middle Pocket sent a clear message to the Byron shire council on Saturday when they came out in force to oppose the Lord Byron distillery currently under consideration by the council.
Photo supplied.

Saturday saw around 70 locals from the Middle Pocket come together to protest in Billinudgel against the proposed microdistillery currently being considered by Byron Shire council.

Residents said that the narrow access road, that is at points only 3m wide, is not safe for large, regular alcohol truck movements.

‘If council intended to fix the road and widen it to accommodate regular trucks and make it safe it would need to relocate at least ten of the houses as many of them sit within ten metres of the road,’ said one resident.

‘They would need to purchase a lot of property as the road meanders through private property and has low culverts.’

Serious concerns were also raised about the potential use of surface and ground water by the distillery with many households having buy in water around four times in the last year.

The property was granted an irrigation licence in November 2016 for the use of ground and surface water that adds up to 53 million litres a year. Residents understand that the licence would need to be transferred from irrigation to industrial use for Lord Byron to be able to use the water for production in the distillery.

Many of the locals who have lived in the area for 40 years or more questioned how the creek could support so much water being drawn out of it on a regular basis.

Questions were also raised regarding the extreme fire danger of the area and the regular flooding that blocks in the valley that would isolate the distillery during extreme weather conditions and potentially make residents more vulnerable during these events.

‘It is an alcohol production facility in a designated extreme fire zone,’ pointed out one resident.

Residents have told The Echo that the developer,  doesn’t currently own the land but has a two year option to purchase.

Byron Shire councillors Jeanette Martin andSarah Ndiaye attended the meeting and several locals said that they if council approved the development then they would take council to court for endangering their lives and failing to provide a safe environment. 


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2 COMMENTS

  1. I stand with the Middle Pocket residents even though I don’t live there. All things considered it a s stupid idea and makes no sense! Why not put it in the Billinudgel industrial estate? East access to highway, use of town water etc. Now that makes sense!

  2. I would love to hear from the distillers. Has anyone sought their perspective?
    Come on Echo – Let’s have some real journalism around this story!
    I am open to the fact that it will be a nightmare for the shire on several levels but am also aware that old school locals in this area can over exaggerate and not give an inch for anyone. This project could be something incredible but we just don’t know.

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