Blown off course by the ill wind of change

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In an ef­fort to save fuel and be green, I am con­sid­er­ing the in­stal­la­tion of a do­mes­tic wind tur­bine which a large DIY store is pro­mot­ing. It has three blades, is de­signed for use with most house­holds and costs £1,500, which in­cludes an ex­pert sur­vey for suit­abil­ity and in­stal­la­tion. The store also says gov­ern­ment grants of up to 30 per cent are avail­able.

How­ever, my lo­cal county coun­cil­lor states that plan­ning per­mis­sion will be nec­es­sary (cost­ing £130) and might not be granted as this is a new and “grey” area. He also ad­vises to wait un­til the Gov­ern­ment clar­i­fies the plan­ning po­si­tion. I am el­derly and, for the in­stal­la­tion to be eco­nom­i­cal, sooner would be bet­ter than later.

What are the pros and cons of go­ing ahead with this? John Win­ter writes: Good for you, for try­ing to do your bit for the en­vi­ron­ment. As things stand, plan­ning per­mis­sion is re­quired for the erec­tion of wind tur­bines. The Gov­ern­ment is aware that this is a great dis­in­cen­tive to peo­ple like your­self and we are told that leg­is­la­tion is un­der way to make wind tur­bines and so­lar pan­els “per­mit­ted de­vel­op­ment” in most cases. This will mean that plan­ning per­mis­sion will no longer be re­quired. How­ever, your need is now and this does not help you.

Sadly, the present sit­u­a­tion is that you will need plan­ning per­mis­sion to erect your wind tur­bine, and, as you so rightly say, the lo­cal author­ity will charge you when you make an ap­pli­ca­tion.

I re­spect all ef­forts to cut down on global warm­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, al­though we all curse when we re­ceive our fuel bills, fos­sil fu­els are rel­a­tively cheap. The “al­ter­na­tive en­ergy” sources have dif­fi­culty com­pet­ing if we look only at the eco­nomic cri­te­ria. So, I wish you well for your en­deav­our and hope that mil­lions more will do the same, but I must add the sad caveat that your over­all sav­ing, in money terms, will not be great. John Win­ter runs his own ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice.


I am in des­per­ate need of ad­vice about my ra­di­a­tors. They are per­fectly warm at the top but at the bot­tom they are freez­ing cold, even af­ter hours of hav­ing my cen­tral heat­ing on. I first thought that they needed bleed­ing, but this did not help at all. Can you please tell me what could be wrong with them and how I can fix the prob­lem? David Snell writes: Pound to a penny your sys­tem has not ever been cleansed and what you have is sludge build­ing up in the ra­di­a­tors.

You need to in­tro­duce a pre­mium brand (Fer­nox or sim­i­lar) COSHH-rated zero (Con­trol of Sub­stances Haz­ardous to Health reg­u­la­tions 2002), non-acidic cleaner. Run the sys­tem for sev­eral days, then tap the of­fend­ing ra­di­a­tors with a rub­ber mal­let to free up any re­main­ing de­bris. This will be put into sus­pen­sion within the sys­tem, which should then be run for a fur­ther two weeks. Then tap the ra­di­a­tors again and flush/drain the sys­tem.

It may take three or even four drain downs and re­fills to clear the de­bris. It may even be nec­es­sary to re­peat this whole process. But then, once things are right, the fi­nal re­fill should con­tain an in­hibitor.

If all this fails, you may have no al­ter­na­tive but to get a pro­fes­sional power-flush­ing com­pany in. David Snell is con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor to ‘Home­build­ing & Ren­o­vat­ing’ mag­a­zine and au­thor of ‘Build­ing Your Own Home’, avail­able at £25 plus £2.25 from 0870 155 7222.


My daugh­ter and son-in-law own a house at the end of a short-ac­cess track which is con­structed of hard­core and gravel. In­cluded in the pur­chase price of the prop­erty was the right of ac­cess over this track.

How­ever, the owner of the track has sub­se­quently sold the land on ei­ther side of it to a neigh­bour who is busy re­duc­ing the track’s width and mov­ing its course to make his gar­den larger. As a re­sult, it is now down to 2.8 me­tres wide and, with the curv­ing na­ture of the track and its high kerbs, it will be very dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, for any small de­liv­ery lorry to gain ac­cess to the house.

The end of the track has also been moved, so that in­stead of my daugh­ter and son-in-law be­ing able to drive straight on to their own prop­erty, they are re­quired to ma­noeu­vre back and forth sev­eral times to get in and out.

Should they ex­pect the track to be, within rea­son, the same width as when they pur­chased the right of ac­cess? Is there a min­i­mum width for a drive to en­sure that, say, a fire en­gine can gain ac­cess? Is it le­gal for the owner to al­low the course of the track to be altered? David Flem­ing writes: The law is that if there is sub­stan­tial in­ter­fer­ence with the right of way, the per­son en­joy­ing the ben­e­fit of the right – that is, your daugh­ter and son-in-law – can ap­ply for an in­junc­tion to pre­vent the nui­sance and have the “ob­struc­tion” re­moved.

It seems fairly clear that there has been sub­stan­tial in­ter­fer­ence here. The fact that the track has been nar­rowed so that large ve­hi­cles can­not use it, com­bined with the way that your daugh­ter and sonin-law now have to ma­noeu­vre back and forth to get in and out, is a clear ob­struc­tion.

The is­sue of whether a fire en­gine could get ac­cess is a dif­fer­ent one, but cer­tainly it would be worth­while in­form­ing the coun­cil and the fire brigade of the po­si­tion as they may wish to take ac­tion on their own ac­count.

In any event, for the rea­sons I have given, there has been an ac­tion­able ob­struc­tion and your daugh­ter and son-in-law would be well within their rights in de­mand­ing that the right of way be re­in­stated. In the first in­stance, they should do so as soon as pos­si­ble, as the longer the mat­ter goes on, the more likely that the court will refuse an in­junc­tion, which is a dis­cre­tionary rem­edy, on the grounds of de­lay. David Flem­ing is head of prop­erty lit­i­ga­tion at William Heath & Co.


My son and his wife have re­cently bought a one-bed­room flat in a very large, old house con­verted into 10 flats where each owner has a share of the free­hold. At present, the busi­ness of the house is ad­min­is­tered by two owne­roc­cu­piers as di­rec­tor and di­rec­tor/sec­re­tary but one is re­tir­ing be­cause of the has­sle and my son is con­sid­er­ing putting his name for­ward for elec­tion, even though he has no le­gal or sec­re­tar­ial train­ing. How could he find out what du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties the posts in­volve? Lorna Vestey writes: Com­mon sense, time, diplo­macy, ad­min­is­tra­tive skills and end­less pa­tience are prob­a­bly the chief re­quire­ments rather than le­gal or sec­re­tar­ial train­ing. How­ever, there are le­gal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in com­pany di­rec­tor­ships, in­clud­ing the need to com­ply with hous­ing and the om­nipresent health & safety leg­is­la­tion.

Does your son re­ally need the has­sle? He should cer­tainly talk to the re­tir­ing di­rec­tor and ask about the ex­act time spent and worst as­pects of man­ag­ing this par­tic­u­lar build­ing.

With as many as 10 flats, I sug­gest they con­sider em­ploy­ing a man­ag­ing agent.

Any­way, LEASE, the gov­ern­ment-funded Lease­hold Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice (0845 345 1993) pub­lishes var­i­ous use­ful leaflets. Ap­point­ing a Man­ag­ing Agent looks at whether you can man­age with­out one, as well as set­ting out du­ties and obli­ga­tions (also on www. lease-ad­ Lorna Vestey is a for­mer part­ner of a blue-chip Lon­don es­tate agency.

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