CAMPAIGNERS are to mount a legal challenge over a decision to expand the runway at Southampton Airport.

Aiport Expansion Opposition Southampton (AXO) are to challenge the decision taken by Eastleigh Borough Council to approve plans to expand the runway at Southampton Airport by 164m.

It comes as the group - which previously raised concerns over the proposals- has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for legal fees.

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In a statement it said: "We believe strongly that the council’s decision was wrong both in the way it was taken and the arguments to justify it. The airport has greatly overstated the economic benefits of expansion, which will adversely affect the quality of lives of around 46,000 residents, whilst hugely underplaying the environmental impact. We are calling for the decision to undergo independent scrutiny. Decisions such as these need full scrutiny and that can now only happen by Judicial Review."

The group confirmed campaigners have instructed a legal team led by Leigh Day and David Wolfe QC to pursue the case.

An appeal to raise money has also been launched.

It comes as the plans proved to be controversial and were approved by Eastleigh councillors in April this year following a 36-hour long meeting.

However, campaigners asked the government to call in the decision.

On June 3, Eastleigh Borough Council formally approved the plans after saying the government missed the deadline to call them in.

Last month airport bosses asked campaigners not to delay the work which could start as early as this August.

Campaigners had opposed to the runway extension on the grounds of pollution, noise and climate change.

Eastleigh Borough Council and Southampton Airport have been approached for comment.