NEIGHBOURS who originally welcomed a green hydro-electricity scheme are now complaining it is driving them round the twist.

The residents living near Osney Mill – which is being re-developed to house 10 flats – thought the Archimedes screw was a good idea to generate electricity from the flow of the neighbouring River Thames.

But now they say they can’t stand the noise from the hydroelectric generator, which became active just before Christmas.

Yesterday site owner Tony Munsey said he had worked at quietening down the generator.

Millbank resident Linda Mowat said: “Up to now, in my ignorance, I have been all in favour of the Archimedes screw as an environmentally-friendly means of generating electricity.

“Obviously I had no idea that it would also generate noise pollution.

“In this formerly peaceful residential corner of Oxford it is now impossible to escape this terrible noise, even with all one’s double-glazed windows closed. It is like being imprisoned in the engine room of an ocean liner.”

The redevelopment of the former riverside flour mill, which was destroyed by fire in the mid-1940s, is set to be finished by April.

Mr Munsey promised the problem would be fixed.

He said the turbine had been slowed down yesterday to dampen the sound and he was also exploring other ways of cutting the noise.

He said: “We are bending over backwards to make sure we can resolve it as fast as we can. But it has just been a teething problem over Christmas.”

Yet Dr Steven Parissien, 52, of Millbank, said while the generator was now quieter it was still a concern.

He said: “It is really insistent and particularly bad for those who live on the riverside. It is a throbbing sound and it gets noisier at certain times – probably with the water level. But the thing is it never stops.”

The system is to be used for schemes at the weir by Osney Lock and also in Abingdon by Abbey Meadow. East Hanney already has a smaller scheme.

Susanna Pressel, county councillor for West Central Oxford, said: “We are, of course, supportive of renewable energy projects, but I’m very concerned to hear about this dreadful noise, which is destroying the peace of many local residents.

“I believe that it is possible to enclose the turbine with something that will deaden the noise. I know that Mr Munsey is keen to be a good neighbour and I hope that this can be done urgently.”