East Lothian business: Glenkinchie Distillery wins fight to stop telling neighbours about upcoming events

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East Lothian distillery has council condition removed

A rural distillery has been told it no longer has to give neighbours a two week warning about upcoming evening events after licensing chiefs were told the rule was ‘a hefty burden’ and ‘difficult to enforce’.

Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian was issued with the condition three years ago after residents living next to it raised concerns about noise from a new outdoor garden area. At the time it was claimed all but one resident in the hamlet of Glenkinchie had objected to the proposals – and that the one resident who did not complain worked for the distillery itself.

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This week a representative from the distillery, which is owned by Diageo, asked East Lothian Licensing Board to remove the condition which he described as a ‘hefty burden’ on the distillery.

The outdoor area at Glenkinchie Distillery, in East Lothian.The outdoor area at Glenkinchie Distillery, in East Lothian.
The outdoor area at Glenkinchie Distillery, in East Lothian.

He said: “What was intended by this condition was that notification was given for out of the ordinary events outwith the every day visitor tours which go on. It could be receptions or small dinners or it could be a literary event if there was a book festival for example going on, but nothing like that is planned.

“At the moment this means any event proposed would have to be arranged at least two weeks in advance, not always practicable, and notification would have to be given to each and every proprietor in the village. It is suggested that to have to notify every proprietor of a private dinner is a hefty burden and one which isn’t appropriate in the circumstance.”

The distillery also applied to treble the number of people allowed to use the outdoor gardens from 50 to 150 as it plans to hold occasional markets at the site, and be allowed to serve light bar meals, which were also approved by the board.

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Licensing Standards Officer Karen Harling told the board that from a compliance point of view the condition asking for two weeks notice was “very difficult to enforce and monitor”. The board was told the distillery held a community engagement event prior to bringing the application to make the changes to its licence to explain its plans and hear feedback.

One objection was lodged against the application while the board was told there had been no complaints about events since the licence was extended into the garden in February 2020.

Councillor John McMillan, the cabinet spokesperson for economic development and tourism said: “I think Glenkinchie Distillery has shown itself to be a good neighbour. This is an opportunity to promote East Lothian and I think, on balance, all the opportunities we need to take should be taken.”

The board unanimously approved removing the condition, increasing the outdoor capacity and providing bar meals on the site.

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