HUNDREDS of angry residents packed out a theatre in Hayes to debate the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport.

With tensions at boiling point following the government's decision to allow the controversial expansion plan, Mayor of London Boris Johnson held a question time for residents to air their views.

More than 400 hundred people were at the Beck Theatre tonight to take part in the debate, with only two people in the audience saying they supported the expansion plan.

Mr Johnson reiterated his promise to fight the government with legal challenges, but insisted the third runway would never actually be built because the process would be very long and the Tories would be in power after the next election and scrap the plan.

He said: “I don't think the third runway will ever be built.

“It can't be right to clog the roads of west London with 48m more cars each year, which is what would happen.

“I think the people of London should never have been asked to accept the proposal of the third runway, and I hope we can soon send it to the scrap heap.”

Mr Johnson was joined by environmentalist Zac Goldsmith and Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council, in fielding questions and setting out the arguments against expansion.

On the other side, Lord Clive Soley, a Labour peer and west London resident, and Frank Wingate, chief executive of West London Business, set out the arguments for expansion at the airport.

Despite regular barracking from the crowd, Lord Soley stressed the perceived need for Heathrow to expand to compete with similar airports in Europe and across the world.

Mr Wingate defended his organisation's position, saying businesses supported the idea because it was necessary to sustain the economy in west London.

He said: “Business owners have told me if we don't expand Heathrow, they will go.

“We have a pretty difficult decision to make here, but it is basic jobs and prosperity we are concerned about.”

The mayor is meeting with London council leaders on Monday to discuss possible legal challenges to last week's decision by the government.

One member of tonight's audience suggested a fund should be set up for contribution to the legal bid, something which Mr Johnson is now considering.