Plans for additional runways at Stansted and Heathrow airports have been given the go-ahead after the High Court ruled the proposals lawful.

Monday’s judgment declared that the government’s white paper on air transport was lawful, allowing the expansion of the two airports.

However, the judge allowed for Essex residents and local authorities to be consulted over the exact location of the Stansted runway. This could mean the development will face further challenges through the planning process.

Any expansion of Luton airport will also be subject to further consultation.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling welcomed the judgment. He said: “I am pleased that the High Court has upheld the case for two additional runways in the south-east of England at Heathrow and Stansted, and rejected calls for that part of the air transport white paper to be quashed.”

Darling accepted the court’s decision to allow local authorities to determine the detail of proposals at Stansted and Luton.

He said: “The government has always accepted that the exact positioning and capacity of the runways at Stansted and Luton will be decided by the normal planning process.”

Darling added that implementation of the policy outlined in the white paper, which was published in December 2003, remained on course despite the legal challenge.