Lord Justice Carnwath, sitting in the central London court, ruled the 2003 Air Transport White Paper was not compatible with the Climate Change Act 2008.

The judge also dismissed the Government’s claims to the contrary as ‘untenable in law and common sense’.

However, the decision does not rule out a third runway but forces the Government to reassess the plans against the Climate Change Act.

He ruled that if the Government decides to push ahead with the runway project it must now ‘review the climate change implications’ of Heathrow expansion.

Chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Shaun Spiers, said: “We were forced to bring this legal case to give people the right to challenge the expansion of Heathrow.

“The High Court has now made clear that a fundamental review of aviation policy is needed.

“This not just a victory for people living around Heathrow or around other airports, it is a victory for everyone who wants a tranquil countryside and a democratic planning system.”

Chair of the No Third Runway Action Group (NoTRAG), Geraldine Nicholson, said: “As local residents, we now demand the Government drops all plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow so we can cast off the eight years of blight and start to rejuvenate our communities.”

Greenpeace executive director, John Sauven, said: “This ruling leaves the Government’s Heathrow decision in tatters.

“Ministers will now have to go back to the drawing board and conduct a broad consultation on key issues where their case is extremely weak.”

Read the full ruling here.

Luke Walsh

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