Home extensions boom planned - but cracks grow in Coalition foundations

Cameron and Clegg to announce new rules together as rise of 'anti-green' Tory ministers angers Lib Dems

Homeowners will be allowed to build extensions and carry out major renovations without the cost or delay of seeking planning approval under temporary rules intended to help the construction industry.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will today stage a show of Coalition unity as they attempt to give new impetus to economic growth by streamlining planning and encouraging building. The centrepiece of the announcement will be a watering down of the planning rules covering changes to homes.

Almost 200,000 households apply each year for permission to make improvements such as conservatories, rear extensions and garage conversions. Application fees are typically £150 and professional fees can cost thousands.

Under the current rules, single-storey rear extensions can be constructed without planning permission as long as they do not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by a set distance. For semi-detached properties, the limit is three metres and for detached homes four metres. Under temporary rules to be put in place next month, those limits will be doubled, meaning many extensions currently requiring permission could go ahead. The changes will not apply to loft extensions.

But the announcement has been overshadowed by concerns the Government may be compromising on its green agenda.

Liberal Democrats have reacted with dismay to the appointment of "anti-green" Tory ministers in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Party sources claim the appointments have exposed Mr Cameron's green credentials to be "skin deep" and vowed to ensure the Coalition delivers on its promises to tackle climate change and boost renewable energy.

Owen Paterson, the new Environment Secretary, is sceptical about global warming and is a strong critic of wind farms. Nick Boles, the new Planning minister, has previously advocated building on the green belt and John Hayes, who was appointed Energy minister, has opposed siting wind turbines in his constituency.

Charles Hendry, who was regarded as a keen advocate of renewable energy and has been replaced by Mr Hayes, was sacked from the Government. Justine Greening was moved out of her post as Transport Secretary as Mr Cameron reopens the question of whether a third runway should be built at Heathrow. She clashed on the issue with Chancellor George Osborne, who is pressing for an early decision on Heathrow.

A senior Liberal Democrat source said: "The Tory commitment to tackling climate change increasingly seems skin deep, but we will make sure the Government sticks to its promises in the Coalition agreement."

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary, is taking direct responsibility for promoting renewable energy – a policy area that was previously left to Mr Hendry. Mr Cameron confirmed moves to take the political heat out of the future of Heathrow by setting up a cross-party commission to examine the issue of airport capacity in the South-east. It is expected to be headed by Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the Confederation of British Industry.

The move is likely to delay a final decision on whether to build an extra runway at Heathrow – as opposed to expanding Gatwick or Stansted or constructing a new airport in the Thames Estuary – until after the next election. Mr Cameron told MPs yesterday: "What we need to do is build a process that hopefully has cross-party support, so we can look carefully at this issue and deliver changes that will address the problems of capacity we will have in future years."

But the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, stepped up the pressure on Mr Cameron by challenging him to rule out expanding Heathrow for the foreseeable future.

There is also disquiet within Conservative ranks over the influence that Mr Osborne had wielded over many ministerial appointments. One senior party source said Ms Greening's switch to become International Development Secretary was a "sign that people should not mess with George Osborne".

The first meeting of the reshaped Cabinet yesterday was dominated by the need for growth. Mr Cameron told his new team: "This is a huge effort for right across Government and it absolutely has got to have as much pace and effort and energy as we can possibly muster. It is the biggest challenge that we face in our country, dealing with these twin threats of deficit and low growth."

The Government will also announce new help for 16,500 aspiring homebuyers by expanding the FirstBuy scheme.

* Knighthoods have been handed to four MPs who lost their jobs, –Nick Harvey (formerly Defence minister), Jim Paice (Defra minister of state), Edward Garnier (Solicitor General) and Gerald Howarth (Defence minister).

No green light: Meet the new ministers

Nick Boles; Planning Minister

Has been quoted as saying that planning "can't work". A long-term Cameron ally, his appointment has "raised eyebrows" among defenders of the green belt, with whom the Government reached an uneasy truce over planning reforms in April. At the time, he described opponents of planning deregulation as "latter-day luddites" who deploy "hysterical scare-mongering".

Owen Paterson; Environment Minister

Has a record of backing policies that are anathema to environmentalists. Supports "fracking" for shale gas and is keen to expand the UK's airport capacity. Used his time as shadow Defra minister in 2005-06 to voraciously campaign for a badger cull and was also a vocal critic of the ban on fox hunting. Described by the Countryside Alliance as "a staunch supporter of all field sports".

John Hayes; Energy Minister

One of the Tories' most vociferous critics of wind farms. In 2009 he called turbines "a terrible intrusion" that failed the "twin tests of environmental and economic sustainability." He replaces the highly regarded energies-sector expert Charles Hendry. Mr Hayes is likely to take George Osborne's side in any dispute with Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey over the energy strategy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Maintenance Person

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent