Heathrow unveils £30bn runway plan as Boris Johnson finds other places to be

Schwarzenegger and Mr Motivator drive last-minute redress scheme

The man who will almost certainly be Britain's next prime minister once declared he would "lie down…in front of the bulldozers" to prevent the construction of a third runway at Heathrow airport.

How ironic, then, that as Boris Johnson moves ever closer to the glittering prize of the premiership, Heathrow airport should unveil its £30 billion "masterplan" for expanding the airport.

The huge project will involve diverting rivers, rerouting the M25 – Britain’s busiest motorway – through a tunnel beneath the new runway, the demolition of hundreds of homes – including an entire village – and the loss of more than 1,000 acres of greenbelt land.

The new runway, which will cost £14 billion and should be completed by 2026 but the full expansion of the airport is to stretch out to 2050, according to the detailed plans published yesterday.


To the many opponents of the project, the final completion date simply means spreading the misery out over 30 years, as the new terminals, access roads, car parks and other infrastructure are put in place on a phased basis.

Heathrow’s proposals are now open to public consultation until mid-September, after which final plans will be submitted for approval. Work on the runway is scheduled to start in 2022.

Views on the controversial project, which has been decades in the planning, are already deeply entrenched – although not, apparently, for Boris Johnson, even though his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip lies directly under the flight path.

Environmentalists are aghast at the pollution created by the hundreds of extra planes a day and those under the flight path are fearful of the noise pollution and impact on the surrounding countryside.

As for Johnson, he will not now be blocking the bulldozers as he promised protesters he would four years ago, having apparently changed his mind since then.

Such cynical U-turns from the not so honourable member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip are something we’re likely to become quite familiar with once he’s in Number 10.

After all, he fled the country a year ago on a trumped up day trip to Afghanistan simply to miss a crucial vote on the Heathrow expansion, which had already been approved by cabinet.

The pointless jaunt cost the taxpayer almost £20,000 but, to Johnson, it was clearly a price worth paying. Had he voted in line with his principles and against the plan, he’d have been forced to resign as foreign secretary.

Terminator joined by the Motivator

He's back – and this time Arnold Schwarzenegger has brought another blast from the past with him in the campaign to encourage consumers to lodge their claims over payment protection insurance.

The Hollywood star is joined by Mr Motivator, the lycra-clad fitness fiend (otherwise known as Derrick Errol Evans) who rose to fame on breakfast television in the early 1990s with his energetic workouts.

Schwarzenegger became the face of the PPI campaign two years ago, with television advertisements featuring an animatronic version of his head trundling around supermarkets and bus stops urging consumers to "make a decision".

Now the Terminator is joined by the Motivator to head up the final publicity blitz, launched this week by Britain’s financial regulator ahead of the final deadline for claims on August 29th.

Although an astonishing £35 billion has already been paid out in redress for what is by far Britain’s biggest-ever mis-selling scandal, banks are bracing themselves for a flood of further claims over the final two months.

While the average payment is between £2,000 and £3,000, some are far, far higher. Others could even be described as life-changing sums – indeed, the biggest PPI payout to date is thought to be as much as £175,000.

The huge sum, collected by an unnamed couple from Swindon, was uncovered by money guru Martin Lewis after the couple used free template letters on his Money Saving Expert website to make their claim.

Their payout came from four separate claims, including one against Barclaycard dating back to 1996. The couple have used their compensation windfall to pay off their mortgage and clear their debts.

It’s not clear quite how they managed to part with what must have been a small fortune in premiums over the years without ever noticing the insurance was useless, which may be why they have decided to remain anonymous.

But their astonishing story should be enough to spark a flood of claims between now and August, with or without encouragement from the Terminator and Mr Motivator.

Fiona Walsh is business editor of theguardian.com