25/09/2011 09:00 BST | Updated 25/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Britain's Highest Ever Crane Installed To Finish London's Tallest Building

Britain's highest ever crane is to be put in place at the building site of what will become Europe's tallest building.

Builders will use the machine to complete the spire of the Shard skyscraper near London Bridge in south London.

When fully extended the crane will sit at 317 metres or 1,040 ft above ground level, making it seven metres taller than the building's eventual highest point (310 metres).

The Shard will become the tallest building in the European Union and the 45th tallest in the world when it is completed in 2012.

It will surpass the current record-holder, One Canada Square at London's Canary Wharf, which stands at 235 metres or 773 ft and was completed in 1991

Irvine Sellar, chairman of the Sellar Property Group which is developing the Shard, said: "This is another unique milestone in the development of this global iconic landmark building.

"The Shard is already making a positive impact on London's skyline and the spire will complement the design of the building and complete a truly stunning piece of architecture."

At present the building stands at 244 metres. The crane will be used to complete the top 23 floors from a total of 95.

Sitting on a platform outside the building at floor 55, it is expected to raise 500 tonnes of steel in a total of around 100 lifts.

The spire will be made up of some 800 separate pieces of steel but sections have been assembled off-site and transported to the Shard rather than individual beams.