WORK on a hydroelectric turbine at Otley Weir has reached a 'momentous' stage with the installation of two giant Archimedes screws.

The scheme, linked to David Wilson Homes' Garnett Wharfe development, began last November but was seriously hampered by high river levels and the Boxing Day floods.

Now, the project is back on track and passed a milestone last week when the Archimedes devices – each the length of a single-decker bus and nearly twice as wide – were lifted into place.

The screws, whose water-powered rotation will generate energy for the National Grid, were transported to the site overnight to minimise disruption.

They were then installed using a wide crane with a 40-metre-long, 25 tonne capacity boom.

David Wilson Homes Yorkshire West technical director, Dave Hudson, said: "The lifting of the Archimedes screws into place at Garnett Wharfe is a hugely momentous step in the installation process of the hydroelectric turbine.

"The work at the development is providing a new blueprint for the regeneration of brownfield land, and there is no other new build development in Yorkshire that is harnessing the power of natural energy resources in this way.

"We’re very proud of the work we’re putting in to ensure the site is carbon neutral on an offset basis."

The turbine's twin screws could generate up to 1,300 Mega Watt Hours per year – enough to provide energy to about 300 homes for 12 months.

Garnett Wharfe will provide 237 riverside homes once it is completed, along with offices, a visitor centre and restaurant.

The turbine scheme is being managed by Eric Wright Civil Engineering and Lowwood Products, who recently installed a sheet-piling 'cofferdam' around the working area to keep out the river.

Otley town councillor Mick Bradley (Green, Danefield) said: "I welcome the development of the hydro project in supplying renewable energy from the River Wharfe as an example of how we can move away from our present dependence on fossil fuels.

"I look forward to Otley generating more renewable energy which, unlike the present scheme, will also directly benefit the local community.

"'I would also ask Lowwood if it would consider making a contribution to the Friends of Otley Lido project, which is working towards getting a sustainable, restored Otley Lido once the hydro scheme is up and running?"

Steps towards acquiring community renewable energy in Otley, meanwhile, were discussed by town councillors this week.

Town council chairman, Cllr Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield), said: "I'm delighted to hear of the progress in restoring renewable hydro power to the River Wharfe in Otley.

"Renewable electricity generation is the future, regardless of ownership – every kilowatt hour counts in the fight to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and tackle climate change.

"We intend to play our part in this battle and, most importantly in identifying ways in which community-owned renewable energy can both tackle carbon emissions and generate local energy.

"We plan to commission detailed feasibility work to identify all possible options and priorities for Otley, and expect to have this study completed by Christmas. We will then be able to devise a plan for future community renewable energy developments in the New Year."

The weir turbine is expected to be completed later this year, with the plant on course to be commissioned in September.