Nick Bullard, of Dark Sky Spirits Ltd, recently applied for planning permission to create the town’s first whisky distillery.
His plans were submitted to Dumfries and Galloway Council last month, requesting a change of use to the former Hydro Garage to create a distillery and visitor information cen- tre, as well as a car park.
But neighbours lodged formal objections with Dumfries and Galloway Council and blasted the chosen loca- tion at last week’s Moffat Community Council.
Complaints ranged from fears over noise and air pollution, to major concerns about parking and traffic.
And, seeking not to cause upset to neighbours, Nick has now withdrawn his application.
He said: “We have decided to withdraw the application for a distillery at Hydro Garage, which effectively puts the decision-making process on hold, for now.
“This will allow us more time to take a closer look at the objections, and how they might be overcome.
“It could well be that, after doing further consultation, we decide that the Hydro Garage site is the best option available. Meanwhile, we have been assessing the feasibility of a property just outside the town boundary.”
So far Nick has already shelled out over £50,000 in the project including architecture, consultancy, site assessments and legal fees.
Disappointed to pull his current plans, he said: “We would have in- vested just over £1.7 million in the project.
“It’s not just the money, which was hard-earned over years: it’s the thousands of hours of time and ef- fort involved that make it dif cult to come to terms with.”
And addressing concerns over visitor numbers, he said: “The visitor centre would have attracted a modest number of visitors. We an- ticipated around 12,000 visitors per year, by year three. That’s fewer than 80 visitors – about 38 cars – on a busy day.
“Due to the size of the building, tours of the distillery would have been limited to 12 people at a time, to start with.
“Worries about coaches on site were unfounded, because no part of the Hydro Garage site – from the reception to the tasting room – could have coped with more than 32 people on site at any one time.
“That’s enough for an incoming tour and an outgoing tour, with a couple of people visiting the shop.”
He explained that fears about a nightclub were unfounded too, that a bar area was only intended to pro- vide tastes of products at the end of the tour.
And hoping that a distillery would bene t the town, Nick added: “The exciting part for me is that distillery visitors tend to linger in the closest town, often staying overnight and visiting a local eatery.
“Moffat is convenient to drivers on the M74, but Moffat is a beautiful town that deserves to be enjoyed at leisure. We still believe that there is the right site waiting for a distillery and hope that we won’t have to go too far away to nd it.
“We will have a stall at Sunday’s Farmers’ Market in town, and I am always happy to talk with people and extol the many virtues that a distillery would bring.”