A High Court challenge against the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow Airport has failed.
Campaigners against the plans had hoped to have the decision declared unlawful.
The judicial review was brought by Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils and Greenpeace UK.
They argued the government failed to consult local communities or recognise the project’s unlawful impact on air quality.
But lawyers for the Transport Secretary argued the judicial review should not be heard until after the consultation on the government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) on aviation – due later this year – had occurred.
The campaigners argued the government had already made its decision.
The case was struck out by Mr Justice Cranston on the basis the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.
The judge said his decision followed from the language of the relevant section of the Planning Act 2008.
“Once the Secretary of State adopts and publishes an NPS the court will have jurisdiction to entertain the challenges the claimants advance. For the present this claim must be struck out,” he said.
Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council, said the ruling was just the first step in what would be “a losing battle for the government” and that the ministers could not get around “the problem of unlawful air quality impacts”.
Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, added: “The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality.
“Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting so they should face this challenge now or abandon the third runway.”