Campaigners trying to block Heathrow expansion have lost a High Court challenge against controversial plans for a third runway.

A group of councils including Wandsworth argue this could now bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners.

The local authorities had said that the third runway could only be built by demolishing thousands of homes, adding large increases in road traffic and making life noisier and unhealthier for millions of Londoners.

As a result of these concerns, four separate judicial reviews of the Government's decision to approve the plans were brought before High Court, all of which have this morning been refused by two leading judges.

Lord Justice Hickinbottom, sitting with Mr Justice Holgate, said in the ruling: "We understand that these claims involve underlying issues upon which the parties - and indeed many members of the public - hold strong and sincere views.

"There was a tendency for the substance of the parties' positions to take more of a centre stage than perhaps it should have done, in a hearing that was only concerned with the legality, and not the merits, of the Airports National Policy Statement."

Leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, said the ruling was hugely disappointing.

"It shows that the Government can drive through expansion plans without properly considering the full environmental and health impacts.

"But it does not mean the runway will ever be built.

"It still faces enormous legal obstacles particularly around air pollution.”

The councils have pledged to maintain "detailed scrutiny" of all aspects of the airport’s planning application for the runway.

It is said that this will include the detail of how the airport intends to meet its obligations in key areas such as noise, air quality and surface access. This detail will be subject to examination at the public inquiry stage with potential for further challenge in the courts.

A Heathrow spokesman said: "We are delighted with today's ruling which is a further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in Parliament, but in the courts also.

"We are getting on with delivering the once-in-a-generation project that will connect Britain to global growth, providing thousands of new jobs and an economic boost for this country and its

future generations."