A High Court Judge has dismissed an appeal by campaigners to have airport expansion plans ruled on by central government.

Stop Stansted Expansion argued the Government should make the ruling on plans to expand Stansted, not Uttlesford Council.

The High Court said on Friday that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government does not have a duty to treat the planning application as a “nationally significant infrastructure project” and therefore they will not intervene.

The application, which would see the airport increase the number of passengers it can serve to 43 million without increasing the number of flights, was first put forward in February 2018.

Last month Uttlesford Council’s planning committee went against the recommendations of the authority’s own officers and threw out the proposal.

The committee argued material planning matters had changed since approval was granted, including concerns over noise, air quality and the impact on climate change.

The scheme was initially approved by Uttlesford Council’s planning committee, but following the local elections in May, the new administration voted to return to the application for further consideration.

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: “We welcome this unequivocal dismissal of Stop Stansted Expansion’s appeal.

“This judgment confirms what we have said all along – that this application does not raise matters of national significance and should be dealt with and considered properly as any other local planning application.

“It is deeply regrettable that a significant amount of taxpayers’ money has been wasted in this way.

“We are disappointed at Uttlesford Council’s refusal of the application, which would have enabled the airport to serve more passengers without any increase in the permitted number of flights and with a noise footprint that’s 15 per cent smaller than our current operations.

“We will now be taking this judgement into account as we consider our next steps.”

If Stansted owner the Manchester Airports Group appeals against Uttlesford Council’s decision, the application would be decided at national level, with the Secretary of State making the final decision.

Stop Stansted Expansion chairman, Peter Sanders, said: “We are currently considering our options because there are different procedures to be followed depending on whether this application ends up being dealt with through the traditional appeal process of a public inquiry or is designated as a nationally significant infrastructure project.

“Regardless of how events unfold in the coming months and beyond, Uttlesford Council’s rejection of these proposals for further major expansion at Stansted Airport has demonstrated the kind of resolve that we hope will be shown everywhere in the future when an application seeks to ride roughshod over the health of the local community and in disregard of the climate emergency.”