A judge at the Courts of Justice has ruled that all six legal challenges brought against Parliament’s decision in June to back a third runway at Heathrow can be challenged at a full hearing.

The news come as a massive boost for the Royal Borough and the four neighbouring authorities who have launched two of the challenges, backed by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.

Mr Justice Holgate had to decide whether the applicants had shown that the process leading up to Parliament’s decision in June to support the runway was flawed.

Following his decision a full hearing will now be held in March in front of two judges.

The other challenges - presented at the same time as the councils’ - are from Heathrow Hub which argues that the Government discriminated against its own rival plan for doubling the length of the existing northern runway, as well as from Friends of the Earth and others who challenge any extension on climate change grounds.

Judge Holgate is expected to look for ways of combining these separate objections where possible to avoid duplication.

John Stewart, who is chairman of HACAN - the organisation that opposes major expansion at the airport, said: “This is a blow to the government. At best it probably thought it would just need to defend two or three of the challenges. Now it faces all six.”

Campaigners gathered outside the Courts of Justice in the Strand from early this morning hoping to hear that the result that was eventually reached.

The Government and Heathrow face challenge from two very sides of the argument - from those who oppose further expansion on the grounds that the infrastructure of the area could not stand it and from the men behind the independant plan for expansion put forward by a team that included a former Concorde pilot.

HACAN’s chairman John Stewart summed it all up when he said: “Legal challenges are a major headache for any Government because it can’t control the outcome. This one is no exception. The best laid plans of politicians can come unstuck in the courts.”