Shoppers visiting the Metrocentre may have spotted a number of car parks being fenced off as diggers have moved onto the site.

In the past few weeks, drivers hoping to find a spot have been greeted with large fencing in parts of the Green and Blue Mall car parks.

Meanwhile, large diggers and equipment along with pieces of steel have been spotted in preparation for work to begin. 

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But it would appear the reasons behind it have been revealed as a major project costing almost £3m is underway.

The Northern Echo: Picture: JIM SCOTTPicture: JIM SCOTT

The car park and shopping centre is being transformed to help it become "more sustainable" with thousands of solar panels.

They are being installed on the roof and in a number of car parks in the form of "solar car ports," which will cover parked cars.

It is also understood 46 new EV charging ports will be added to the car parks in the Green and Blue Mall with solar panels fitted above each bay too.

Gavin Prior, Metrocentre Centre Director, previously said: “We’re delighted to announce we have successfully secured ERDF funding to launch this new and unique renewable energy project.

The Northern Echo: The Metrocentre Picture: CONTRIBUTORThe Metrocentre Picture: CONTRIBUTOR

"A massive solar panel and car port installation of this kind has never been seen before in a UK shopping centre and upon completion of the project, Metrocentre will have the largest solar panel installation of any UK shopping centre.

“Solar energy is the first stage of building a more sustainable future for Metrocentre, by reducing our carbon footprint and bringing renewable energy to the local community.

"This project, and others like it, are an integral part of our long-term strategy for the centre which focuses on sustainability and our place in the community.”

The project will generate 1,243,800 kWh of electricity per year, the same energy required to power 340 households every year or boil a kettle over 11.3 million times.

Kirsty Berry, Director of Projects at Syzygy Consulting, which is working on the project, said: “Metrocentre’s project is one of the largest and most noteworthy projects in Syzygy’s ten-year history.

"We are delighted to be driving the delivery of such an important scheme within the 'Northern Powerhouse', making a massive contribution to the renewable generation and EV charging capacities both for the centre and within the region.

"The project will provide one of the largest publicly accessible solar car ports and demonstrate the synergies between renewable energy and the electrification of the transport network.”

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