A MILESTONE moment was reached yesterday as an 11.5-tonne steel screw was lowered by crane into the Thames at Osney Weir.

The 4.3m-long Archimedean screw is the central part of the Osney Hydro scheme – the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames.

It marks the start of the final phase of building.

One of the people behind the project, Barbara Hammond, from Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub, said: “It fits, thank goodness – after measuring and re-measuring and chewing our nails.

“We have been dreaming about today for the last 13 years.

“The height of the crane was quite astonishing – but for me the most amazing moment wasn’t the lifting but seeing it arrive, this enormous thing going up Bridge Street.”

The four-bladed screw was built in the Netherlands.

The hydro project will generate 165,500kwh of electricity a year, equivalent to the amount needed to power more than 50 houses.

Building work on it started in July last year and is due to finish by June. Next a small building to house the control panels needs to be built before all the electrics are connected and fed into the national grid.