THOUSANDS of pounds have been raised by campaigners who want to mount a legal challenge to the extension of Southampton Airport’s runway.

A campaign on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe is aimed at seeking a judicial review into Eastleigh Borough Council’s green light for the plans.

The airport’s boss has said he is “extremely disappointed” by the challenge to the scheme, which the airport says will create 250 construction jobs as well as securing or creating another 2,500.

Councillors voted in April to allow the 164 metre runway extension, which the airport says is vital to its future. Eastleigh Borough Council issued the formal approval earlier this month after hearing nothing from the government on whether it would step in.

The campaign group Airport Expansion Opposition (AXO) Southampton has launched the crowdfunding campaign, which had raised £6,260 from 119 donors as of Friday.

It said: “This decision, taken by a local planning authority, impacts thousands of people living outside of their boundary who will experience an increase in noise. Further, the expansion in aviation will have far reaching consequences to the climate - affecting the lives of millions of people worldwide.”

It said Eastleigh council had formally granted the application before housing, communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick had decided whether to call in the decision.

“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,” the campaign said.

READ MORE: Southampton Airport runway plans are given green-light

“Decisions such as these need full scrutiny and that can now only happen by Judicial Review. Opponents of Southampton Airport expansion have instructed a legal team led by Leigh Day and David Wolfe QC to pursue the case, and are launching a public appeal for money to help finance the action.”

Southampton Airport’s operations director, Steve Szalay, has said the airport is keen to get started on the project as soon as possible.

“We are extremely disappointed that the challenge from the opposition group may potentially add further delay to not only the project but also the creation of over 250 jobs as part of the construction phase. We are resolutely committed to these runway extension plans and the 2,500 jobs it will protect and enable,” he said.

Southampton and District Green Party is supporting Friends of the Earth and AXO in its challenge.

Its spokesperson Katherine Barbour said: “Although there were many councillors in the Borough of Eastleigh who knew it was the wrong decision, it was never enough to take on the hierarchy of the Lib Dem administration who seem to be looking to feather their caps from the expansion of an industry which only has detrimental environmental effects.

“Similar to the odourless, colourless and tasteless chemical known as DDT; the airline industry is causing untold environmental damage. We intend to campaign so as to limit the damage. We hope that one day, like with the worldwide ban on DDT, we will achieve similar success.”

Eastleigh Borough Council has said its decision was taken “in line with relevant legislation and planning policy frameworks” and that it is confident the decision was sound.