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Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

Middle Pocket meets over distillery

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Cars passing on the Middle Pocket Road. Photo supplied.
Cars passing on the Middle Pocket Road. Photo supplied.

Local residents have been alarmed at the proposal for a micro distillery, in the Middle Pocket and are calling a meeting on Saturday 13 May at the Billinudgel Hotel to discuss the issue.

Residents raised serious concerns at the previous council meeting in March regarding the appropriateness of the development in relation to road usage, impacts on the local water table, and impact on the local community.

The development application (DA) calls the development a micro-distillery however residents say there is nothing small about the proposal.

Comparisons to local micro and small distillers show that Lord Byron at full capacity is 87 times the size our local distillers,’ said a spokesperson for Middle Pocket community group.

Questions have also been raised regarding how truck and other transport movements have been accounted for and residents have highlighted seven possible errors the DA relating to proposed traffic movements.

The 1988 Byron Rural Settlement Strategy states that the key issues in developing Middle Pocket are ’excessive slope, distance to services, cost of road upgrades, flooding and access problems.’

In 1995 a three lot subdivision was refused with one reason being that ‘it is considered that the development will generate traffic in excess of the safe capacity of Middle Pocket Road.’

Middle Pocket Road is 2.4m-5.5m wide with the 80 per cent of it being 4m and under and the road has not been upgraded since the 1988 assessment.

‘Our road was originally built for horse and cart travel and many of our neighbours are within 10 metres of the road, the school bus passing shakes the older houses and for much of the road two normal size cars cannot pass safely,’ said the local spokesperson.

Concern regarding the fire danger in the production of flammable liquid where there is only one access road has also been raised.

‘In the latest draft Land Use strategy our entire valley is declared an “extreme fire danger”,’ said the spokesperson.

‘We are also cut off at least three times a year by flooding and often have no use of power or phone.’

Buffer of 500m are recommended by council regulations between the development and neighbours however both stage on and two of the development do not adhere to this.

‘The proposed stage one development for the site is only 127m from the neighbours house and stage two is 300m,’ said the Middle Pocket community spokesperson.

Nobody lives here to be next to a factory. This is a quiet dead end valley, there’s either small farms or people here have retired or are raising children, they grow vegetables, they want wildlife and peace and quiet. Not trucks.’

A council report is being finalised and will be reported to the council meeting on 25 May that will consider many of the aspects raised by residents.

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