Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has filed an application for judicial review with the High Court, attempting to take Stansted's expansion plans out of local hands.
The campaign group wants to challenge the transport secretary's decision to allow the current Stansted Airport planning application to be determined by Uttlesford District Council (UDC).
SSE argued that the current airport expansion plans 'meet the legal definition of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project ('NSIP') and so the planning application should be determined nationally by an expert team in the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State, rather than locally by UDC'.
The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of Stansted Airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels.
SSE chairman Peter Sanders commented: 'High Court proceedings do not come cheap and so we do not take such actions lightly but only after careful thought and advice. SSE's primary objective is to seek to safeguard the local community and local environment from unfettered and unsustainable airport expansion.
'Regrettably, legal proceedings are sometimes an unavoidable part of trying to achieve this objective but we must try to ensure a fair and thorough process for dealing with this planning application.'
SSE will ask the High Court for an expedited hearing, but even if this is granted the hearing may still not take place until next year. In the meantime, if UDC proceeds to determine the planning application, the decision would be overturned if the High Court rules in SSE's favour.
The news comes as Heathrow's expansion faces mutliple judicial reviews, with local councils, and environmental campaign groups Plan B and Friends of the Earth all launching legal actions.