Heathrow Airport
Teddington Action Group has said it will challenge the Airports Commission in court if it chooses Heathrow Airport for a new runway (Getty)

The Airports Commission faces legal challenges springing up from all directions regardless of whether Gatwick Airport or Heathrow Airport is given the green light to build a new runway.

The airports are competing for the commission's approval for a new runway but face obstacles in their pursuit to become the front runner.

Teddington Action Group, which opposes expansion at Heathrow, threatened on Monday to take the commission to court if it recommended the west London hub.

Members criticised an air pollution consultation that gave the public three weeks to respond to.

Lawyer Angus Walker, partner and head of government and infrastructure at Bircham Dyson Bell, said many more groups could come forward regardless of which airport is given the thumbs up.

"It comes as no surprise that the work of the Airports Commission is to be subject to legal challenge," he told IBTimes UK

"While the Teddington Action Group challenge is unlikely to succeed, it is symptomatic of the controversy surrounding airport expansion and that the Commission's recommendation will almost certainly end up in the courts.

"The government should try to have 12-week consultations, but if they do depart from that, which it quite regularly does, it is usually because it is a sub-consultation on something that is in the public domain and is not the introduction of a new idea," said Walker.

Sir Howard Davies could make a decision on which airport is best suited to securing Britain's aviation future as early as the end of June.

By the end of the summer he will put forward one of three shortlisted options: a second runway at Gatwick; a third runway to the north-west of Heathrow; or an extended northern runway at Heathrow.

The government, which is not bound by the commission's decision, has already pencilled in Christmas to make a decision, a move Walker said could be wise.

"The [action] groups want to continually kick the can down the road. The government has allowed itself until Christmas to make a decision and that might be because it predicts legal challenges," he added.

Walker also dismissed as "tenuous" claims by the Teddington Action Group that Davies' position at Royal Bank of Scotland would cause a conflict of interest because it works with companies that own Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The commission responded by stating Davies would not start work there until September.