Tom Hill, representing opponents to the plans, made the comment on the first day of the hearing. He also condemned the scheme for funding expansion at Stansted by diverting cash from other airports.
Local authorities and residents affected by the white paper proposals for Stansted and Luton have brought the case against the government (Planning, 10 December, p6).
Hill said that if the proposals go ahead, landscapes would be swept away, monuments torn down and areas of woodland and hedgerow obliterated. "Hundreds, if not thousands of property owners would be affected by noise," he added.
The six-day High Court challenge seeks to highlight flaws in the decision-making process. Campaigners claimed that the consultation did not make it clear that the ending of runway alternation at Heathrow could be a short-term alternative to a third runway.
They also alleged that the consultation document failed to give people the chance to comment on Luton's runway extension.
The white paper ignores the absence of a commercial justification for a second Stansted runway contrary to the government's own ground rules for the consultation, opponents argued.
Finally, they claimed that the government failed to provide the public with information about alternative proposals for new airports at Thames Reach and on the Isle of Sheppey.