Yesterday, The Royal Gazette reported that Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield had refused the appeal for the wind turbine after Planning officers said it would "have a detrimental impact on the appearance and character of this prominently located listed building".

Tim Miller wanted to install the 6.5 ft horizontal wind turbine at his Grade Two-listed home in Harbour Road, Warwick, to provide an example of sustainable development on the Island. He has already installed solar water heating panels on the roof and wanted to affix the turbine to the east chimney of the property.

Mr. Miller even suggested a year's trial for the micro-wind turbine "to protect the public interest if the installation proves contentious", and said it would gather information on the potential for renewable energy on the Island. He planning application was also backed by Belco.

However, the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee objected and the wind turbine was turned down by planning officers, citing the "detrimental visual impact on the listed building".  Mr. Miller then appealed but this was also rejected - a decision which Ms Butterfield upheld. The decision illustrates the dilemma of balancing Bermuda's heritage and traditional architecture with the growing needs of sustainable development on the Island.

Yesterday Mr. Miller, 41, said: "I'm quite shocked because we seem to have this inconsistent policy from the Department of the Environment. We can destroy 37 acres (Southlands) and de-list a Grade One listed building, but something that is positive for the community like this, is not allowed."

Greenrock released a statement saying: "We have been working with Mr. Miller (a partner in eco company goGreen) over the last 12 months on a number of projects. Greenrock feels Mr. Miller's approach is very sound and ensures that this micro-technology is properly tested to ensure that it's viable and sustainable in Bermuda.  "In order to do this, one needs to install these units around Bermuda. For obvious reasons, Mr. Miller had planned to use his own home in order to monitor this new technology. Mr. Miller was very reasonable in his request of asking for a one year trial period.

"For the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee to reject it based on the aesthetic reason, truly misses the long-term purpose of what Mr. Miller is trying to do. And to add insult to injury, for the planning officers to suggest that if the unit was placed in an alternative location it might be approved, truly indicates the lack of understanding of this technology since any other alternative location would not suit the wind profile needed for it to work effectively.

"It is cases like this that make this Island and its current Government administration seem antiquated and not in tune with what is going on in the rest of the world. On one hand, the current Government has developed a Sustainable Development Strategy and Implementation Plan (SDSIP) that states the urgency of using alternative energy based on the undisputed estimates that Belco is not going to be able to generate enough power in the near future to support our current power consumption.

"At the same time, they delist the Grade One 'Queen of the East' building located on East Broadway, based on the logic that the building can no longer be suitable for tenants since there is no parking.  "There is too much 'doublespeak' going on in the current Government administration, which probably confuses and cripples the civil workforce in trying to do what is right for Bermuda today. And if we can't lay the foundation for sustainable development today, how are we going to prepare ourselves for the future.  "Bermuda needs to start thinking in micro ways in order to provide macro solutions."

Stuart Hayward, chairman of BEST, said: "This application and decision reflect the ongoing and increasing tension between preservation and modernisation. There are aspects of Bermuda culture, and cultures in general, that are worth preserving, hence the listing of historic buildings. There are also good reasons to move toward alternative energy sources.  "While I believe the decision to preserve the aesthetic quality of the listed building is a correct one, it is unfortunate that such widely varying ministerial responses to technical officers would deny this appeal but allow the appeal permitting John Swan's ten-storey building on Seon Place, issue an SDO for Southlands and permit the demolition of the listed 'Queen of the East'. Greater consistency from policy-makers would lend a greater sense of stability in our community.

"At the moment, there is no Government policy on energy, nor any Government agency charged with overseeing or shaping an Island-wide strategy for how we deal with energy consumption and supply, now or in the future. A policy that spelled out a policy and its objectives, and gave tax concessions to clean energy devices like electric cars and bikes and passive electricity generators, and penalised high energy consumers, would go a long way toward resolving energy-related conflicts that are sure to become more frequent."

Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of the Environment, Telecommunications and E-Commerce, Kevin Monkman, has said the Plannning Department did not oppose the 'green' principles behind the wind turbine but that it was simply in the wrong place. He believes "striking a balance is key".

Planning Inspector Brian Field has called for policymakers to embrace renewable energy in the forthcoming Development Plan. He said: "It is worth noting that the design of turbines is improving constantly, and less obtrusive yet equally efficient models are being developed all the time. A design more appropriate to the local vernacular is in all probability just around the corner."  Technical officers have also encouraged Mr. Miller to look for an alternative location for his wind turbine.

In February, Planning approved installation of the first domestic wind turbine on Bermuda, at a house in Somerset, for a trial period of a year. Belco has also applied for permission for a 'micro windmill' at a company-owned house in Middle Road, Warwick, as part of a pilot project into renewable energy.  A Government spokesman said last night: "Regarding Government policy on wind turbines, of course we support these devices."

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