Plans to expand Stansted airport's existing runway have today been blocked by council officers.
Uttlesford district council unanimously rejected proposals from Stansted bosses that would have seen caps on passenger numbers and air traffic lifted.
BAA has said it is "disappointed" at the council's decision, and plans to appeal in order to have the caps of 25 million passengers and 264,000 flights per year removed.
Councillors deemed that the prospective damage the expansion would do to the local environment made the application "unacceptable".
The planning officers' report on the plans said that increased levels of noise pollution and a shortage of water in one of the driest regions of the UK outweighed the economic benefits the removal of passenger caps would bring.
It added that in light of the Stern Review on climate change, the council wanted clarification from central government as to any forward environmental policies.
Terry Morgan, managing director at the authority, which also has planning applications for a second runway in the works, today accused Uttlesford council of ignoring the "interests of the record number of leisure and business travellers".
"No-one should be in any doubt that we remain very confident of the case we have made and that this will be fully recognised at the public inquiry," Mr Morgan added.