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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Middle Pocket micro distillery knocked back

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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 sending a clear message to the Byron Shire Council against the distillery.
Photo supplied.

Hans Lovejoy

A proposal to establish a micro distillery in Middle Pocket was refused by council at Thursday’s meeting, ending a sustained campaign by residents who were opposed.

Greens Cr Michael Lyon presented a motion for councillors to consider, which listed eight reasons under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 as to why the DA was not suited to the area.

‘If it were smaller and on a better road I would support it,’ he said.

Crs Hackett, Spooner and Hunter voted against the motion, with Cr Spooner eventually withdrawing a foreshadowed motion to allow it to proceed to stage one.

He told the chamber the size of the development had been overplayed by objectors.

‘If this can happen here, then nothing can happen here: no secondary dwellings [for example]. I have sympathy [for those who say they will be affected]. The road is at fault and that’s council’s responsibility. We need to fix the road.’

Cr Spooner said the development was a positive which would generate employment.

‘We have to be confident over why we would knock it back,’ he said.

‘The first stage appears reasonable. In the meantime we can look at the road. We need to meet in the middle.’

During morning public access proponent Brian Restall told the chamber that he understood the fear and anger. ‘I feel the hate,’ he said. ‘[But] the council officers have made a second approval for this proposal. In normal circumstances, such a DA would just go to staff for determination. It’s all compliant.’

Resident Lani Jensen told The Echo, ‘The community is really pleased with the outcome. We believe the location is ill suited to alcohol production due to the fact it is a narrow dead end valley with only one access road. It is also less than 100m from a waterway, 127m from a house, surrounded by extreme fire danger, 1.5kms from a nature reserve that houses 32 endangered plants and animals, inaccessible during floods and the road is less than three metres for a big part.’

‘We feel this type of alcohol production is best suited to an industrial estate or open land where it has access to year round essential services. We can receive a metre of rain here in 24hrs and the valley can flood in half an hour.

‘We don’t feel that the location would hold up in any court due to the many reasons stated and the fact that the road is less the width than a single standard lane and crosses many low lying sensitive waterways. It is not suited for any of the dead end valleys.’


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