GREEN campaigners fighting to halt the building of the Weymouth relief road have officially launched their High Court challenge.

Dorset County Council has granted planning permission for the £84 million project, and hopes to start work early next year.

Environment groups Transport 2000 and the Campaign to Protect Rural England lodged papers at the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday.

They believe rules preventing development in areas of outstanding natural beauty have been ignored - and are campaigning for a judicial review.

A judge will now consider the lawfulness of the council's decision and check that the right procedures were followed.

Rebecca Lush, roads and climate change campaigner for Transport 2000, said the group are now waiting to hear the outcome.

"We're hoping the court case will be heard as soon as possible," she said. "We want this issue resolved.

"We want to know if the policies protecting areas of outstanding natural beauty are worth the paper they're written on."

Transport 2000 and the CPRE believe the council was wrong to grant itself permission for the project when the Government was considering calling it in for a public enquiry.

They have also criticised the authority for failing to consult the South West Regional Assembly.

But road campaigner county councillor Harry Burden has said he believes there are 'no valid grounds' for a judicial review.