A LEGAL challenge to Heathrow's third runway was launched only last week, adding to the rising level of airport-related anger in the area.

When it comes to taking on the Government and BAA, the upstart amalgamation of councils and campaign groups could take some tips from campaigners who 14 years ago this month fought off plans to expand the M25 into a 14-lane super-highway.

Back in April 1995 the Conservative government made a U-turn on its plans to expand the motorway after a long battle with the Longford Residents' Association and West London Friends of the Earth.

Rose McManus, spokeswoman for West London Friends of the Earth, said at the time the move was a clear victory for people power.

"The Government realised that building more roads was very unpopular with the electorate."

In a statement which echoes shaky Labour's position in 2009 she added: "I think the low standing of the Conservative Party at the moment forced the Government to think again.

"The point of a democracy is that the government has to listen to the voters - it has had to listen over the motorway and it will have to do the same with T5.

"The Government will ignore the strength of local feeling at its peril."

Heathrow Terminal 5 was of course acrimoniously granted permission years later, only finally being opened in 2008, but her comments are similar to those made by campaigners fighting the third runway last week.

Geraldine Nicholson, chair of

NoTRAG, the No Third Runway Action Group, said: "This legal challenge shows that we are prepared to use every avenue open to us to save our communities from destruction. We are fighting the Government in the courts and fighting to win."

It is exactly the type of fighting spirit shown by the Longford Residents' Association in 1995 in fending off the plans to expand the M25 through Green Belt territory.

At the height of their campaign, villagers stood in Perry Oaks Drive,

Longford waving various placards protesting against noise pollution, against expansion, against Terminal 5 and against the M25 and all the proposed through roads.

Since the victory the M25 has been widened, but not into the 14-lane

'super-highway' planned in 1995.

Victories have been hard to come by for campaigners against the Government and BAA, but this small band of determined villagers has shown that just sometimes the big boys do not get their own way.