A LONG-AWAITED hydro-electric power scheme in Oxford will begin operation in two months, it is hoped, after a series of delays.

Work to complete the final phase of a £500,000 project to install a turbine in the River Thames at Osney Lock will get under way next month.

Construction work started last year and the turbine was due to be generating electricity by the spring.

But community group Osney Lock Hydro said that high river levels and flooding during the wet winter held up progress.

This meant that staff from the Environment Agency, which operates the weirs at the lock, and is responsible for flood management, were needed elsewhere.

Barbara Hammond, one of the group behind the scheme, said the aim was to start generating electricity in October.

She said: “We’re hoping to start the next phase in September. It has taken a bit of time to organise it but we are volunteers.

“The screw is in place but the control panel needs to be in a weather-protected area, because it’s a computer, so we need the turbine house to be weather-proof before we can connect it up.

“It has been a question of organising everything.

She said: “What we found with the flooding over the winter is that the agency had to put all its resources into managing that, which meant we couldn’t work with them on finalising all the arrangements for the next phase.”

In May the 11.5-tonne steel turbine screw was fitted but was initially put in the wrong position.

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

But the energy will be sold to the Environment Agency, rather than going into the National Grid.

The profits will contribute to a fund to be reinvested in low-carbon projects to reduce carbon emissions in Oxford.

It is hoped the fund will total £2m over a 40-year period.

Susanna Pressel, a member of Oxford City Council for Jericho & Osney, said: “I’m very keen to see it working.

“It’s a brilliant scheme and I have got shares in it, but apart from that it’s a very good way of combating climate change and a wonderful local effort.”

The Environment Agency was asked to comment on the project but it referred the Oxford Mail to Dr Hammond.

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