Plans to extend Southend Airport runway in Essex have hit a legal hurdle which could delay the start of work.
The government has blocked Southend Borough Council granting planning permission without authorisation by the Secretary of State John Denham.
The development control committee is due to consider the plans on Wednesday.
If the scheme is approved the decision will be frozen and the plans will go before Mr Denham who could decide to call a public inquiry.
A borough council spokesman said: "The Secretary of State may then decide not to intervene and send the application back to the council to issue a decision notice.
"If the secretary of state decides to call in the application a public inquiry will be held."
If the planning application is rejected by the borough council then a decision notice will be issued in the usual way.