A pro-Heathrow expansion has have criticised London councils for spending millions on a legal battle fighting the plans to build a third runway at the second busiest airport in the world.

In a series of Freedom of Information requests, Back Heathrow and Unite the Union found that in the last two years, councils have spent more than £100,000 of taxpayer’s money fighting to expansion.

Richmond and Wandsworth council have spent £84,923 since August 2016. This includes costs of a strikeout hearing in January 2017.

Peter Kavanagh, regional secretary of Unite the Union for London and Eastern Region said: "Councils like Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon have been cutting services for years. Last year alone Hillingdon cut over £200,000 on services whilst finding a similar amount to give to lawyers."

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director at Back Heathrow, said: “Just over a month ago Parliament gave the green light to Heathrow expansion with a cross-party majority of nearly 300 MPs.

“Independent polling from Populus shows more local people support this project than oppose it. They understand the technological advances that are making aircraft cleaner and quieter, and they want the economic benefits it will bring, including 180,000 new jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships.

"Yet these councils have chosen to spend over £1 million of taxpayer’s money over the past decade on campaign groups and expensive lawyers. Its time they respected the views of local people, businesses, unions and the democratic will of Parliament."

This comes after news that lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities issued a judicial review in the High Court against the Secretary of State.

The grounds of the challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of habitats and a flawed consultation process.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, leader of Richmond Council, responded to Back Heathrow’s queries about spending, commenting: “This is another PR stunt from Heathrow Airport. Richmond residents have repeatedly voiced their opposition to any expansion at Heathrow, and our job is to represent their views and challenge this decision by the Government to back a third runway.

“Expansion will have a devastating effect on our communities which is why for the past 10 years, all administrations, irrespective of political party, have campaigned against the airport expansion.

“Indeed in 2013, a referendum was held asking residents if they agreed with the council continuing to campaign. Over 100,000 people took part, with 72% against a third runway.

“We have always been open about our opposition. We have always been open about our funding legal action, with all reports in the public domain. The same cannot be said however for Back Heathrow. They pretend to be a grassroots campaign group, when in fact it is bankrolled by Heathrow Airport's coffers.”

The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.