Plans to press on with the expansion of Heathrow Airport have been labelled as "a sick joke."

The controversial plans to build a third runway were approved by ministers yesterday.

This means another vote by MPs must be held by July 11.

If this is passed, the third runway will have outline planning permission which will then see Heathrow publish detailed expansion plans, which in turn will be be subjected to a public consultation and a planning inquiry.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling was keen to stress that Heathrow expansion would bring benefits across the country, with a boost of up to £74 billion to passengers and to the wider economy.

"The time for action is now. Heathrow is already full and the evidence shows the remaining London airports won't be far behind," he said.

"Despite being the busiest two-runway airport in the world, Heathrow's capacity constraints means that it is falling behind its global competitors, impacting the UK's economy and global trading opportunities."

But this optimism isn't felt by all.

Leader of Richmond Council, Gareth Roberts, said this was a short-sighted plan that would cause more harm than good.

“We are no further forward on air quality," he said.

"Ministers have a duty to protect people living and working in the area around Heathrow from the ill—health consequences of poor air quality.

“The NPS (Airports National Policy Statement) provides no protections which can ensure how air quality obligations can be achieved. Yet ministers still seem set on backing a new runway which would damage the health of 121,000 people in the area and in some cases cause premature death.”

According to documents previously withheld by the Government at least 2.2m people could be affected by noise from an expanded airport with 973,000 people experiencing increased day time noise.

Mr Grayling said local communities would receive a £2.6 billion package towards the costs of compensation, noise insulation and improvements to public amenities that was among the "most generous in the world."