THE giant Southampton wind turbine would be a grand symbol of the city's green credentials, says the organisation behind the idea.

Soaring 120m (393ft) from the ground to the tip of its blades, there are plans to build Hampshire's first major wind turbine at a secret location on the northern edge of the city.

As revealed by the Daily Echo yesterday, the 85m (279ft) tower would have three rotating blades stretching 33m (108ft) and would generate enough power to supply 1,500 homes.

It would be funded by a multi-million-pound grant from the Government agency Partnerships for Renewables (PfR), which wants to build a network of 200 giant wind turbines on publicly-owned land across Britain.

Southampton would be one of the first cities to benefit from the scheme to produce 500 megawatts of renewable energy, equivalent to 250,000 houses, at zero carbon cost to the country's environment.

PfR chief executive officer Stephen Ainger said that he was looking forward to helping Southampton City Council seek opportunities for clean electricity generation through wind turbines.

"If a turbine was developed we believe that it would prove to be a real landmark, reinforcing Southampton's leading green credentials," he said.

"We are currently at the early stages of identifying potential renewable energy sites in and around Southampton and no firm plans have been put in place.

"We take great care to develop wind turbines only on appropriate sites, so we adopt a rigorous screening process.

"To date no specific site, in or around Southampton, has successfully passed through our screening process but if a suitable site is identified the local community will be central to the development process."

It is believed that a potential site will be named in six months, and Mr Ainger said that consultation with the public would be key to the project's success.

"The proposal would also be assessed by relevant environmental bodies and subjected to a thorough planning process," he said.

The idea was backed by 70 per cent of Daily Echo readers in an online poll conducted yesterday (as of 5pm) and green campaigners declared it fantastic news for the city.

Southampton Friends of the Earth campaigner Chris Bluemel said: "It's great news."

Councillor Gavin Dick, Cabinet member for environment and transport, revealed that he wants to build as big as possible and replicate the success of Reading, where a two-megawatt turbine saves 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

If planning permission were granted, it would become Hampshire's first wind turbine.