DREAMS of a hospital run on wind power are no longer just hot air.

Swindon's Great Western Hospital is pushing ahead with proposals to have an 80-metre wind turbine in its grounds.

Power from the turbine would be connected to the hospital's main energy supply, powering medical equipment, lights and wards.

The natural electricity could cut £300,000 from GWH's £1m annual energy bill and reduce the hospital's carbon dioxide and carbon emissions by 23 per cent.

As revealed in the Advertiser last June, the hospital has been considering investing in a windmill for a while.

The turbine would be built at the bottom of the hospital site, nearest the motorway, so the sound of the A419 and M4 drowns out any noise from the blades.

Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, is in talks with green energy company Ecotricity to fund the construction and maintenance of the structure.

Ecotricity is the company behind the 85-metre wind turbine in Reading. The whole project is predicted to cost the trust only £12,000 in legal costs and consultancy fees.

The trust's head of estates and facilities, Andy Bowman, said the benefits would outweigh the cost. "A wind turbine is expected to generate 30 per cent saving on total energy costs," he said.

"This is based on today's charge but would be likely to improve. If electricity went down in price, the trust would still save on current and future carbon taxation.

"The GWH is sited adjacent to a rural landscape of specific interest and potentially this may lead to objections against the proposal on environmental and aesthetic grounds.

"While it is likely there will be some opposition, there does not appear to be any local policy which would automatically discount planning approval."

The site's energy manager Keith Garner has checked there is enough wind in the area to turn the blades and that the turbine will not block the flight path of air ambulance helicopters.

GWH will be applying to Swindon Council for outline planning permission.