LAWYERS working on Brit-ain's longest running legal hearing have netted about £12m in fees.
The inquiry into a fifth terminal at Heathrow Airport is due to finish this month after up to 30 lawyers appeared at the hearing which exceeded 504 days.
Cameron McKenna, which is leading the fight on behalf of BAA to allow Terminal 5 to be built, is understood to have earned close to £3m in fees.
Sources say BAA's barristers, Lord Silsoe QC, Guy Roots QC, Michael Humphries and Reuben Taylor, all of leading planning set 2 Mitre Court Buildings - the chambers of Michael FitzGerald QC - have together earned around £4m in fees.
A BAA spokesman refused to comment on the legal fees, but denied claims that it had sought tax relief on the bill.
Hillingdon Council, which is leading the fight against the terminal, has spent £2.5m on the inquiry, 75 per cent of which is thought to have gone on consultants and legal fees.
A further group of nine opposing local authorities has spent £4m on the inquiry, although a breakdown of the legal costs is unavailable.
At least another 15 lawyers have appeared in front of inquiry inspector Roy Vandermeer QC.
The full costs incurred by both sides are expected to reach around £70m.
The Government is understood to be furious at the length of the inquiry, while the entire planning system is under fire from MPs. Planning minister Richard Caborn is preparing a consultation paper aimed at shortening future inquiries.
Barrister Michael Hump-hries has warned against blaming lawyers for the overrun. He says the inquiry has dealt with highly complex matters, and that long-winded legal representation did not cause delays.