THE world's biggest public art project, which aims to build a series of huge sculptures across the region at a cost of £15m, will be unveiled in the North-East today.

Details of the first sculpture, which will dwarf Gateshead's Angel of the North, will be revealed this morning.

Called the Tees Valley Giants initiative, the ten-year plan aims to create towering structures in each of the five boroughs of the Tees Valley area, including Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, and Redcar and Cleveland.

Funding is in place for the first structure - a 160ft abstract to be built on the Tees Dock and which will be part funded by Middlesbrough Football Club.

Among the artists involved in the project is Turner prize winner Anish Kapoor.

One of his best known works is a 110-ton stainless steel sculpture called Cloud Gate. Made from polished steel plates, which reflect the skyline and the clouds, and inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world, measuring 66ft long by 33ft high.

But the Tees Valley Giants will dwarf even Cloud Gate.

Officials from Tees Valley Regeneration hope they will prove as big an attraction as the Angel of the North.

At a cost of £2.7m, the design of the Middlesbrough sculpture is still a closelyguarded secret, but it is expected to go before the council's planning committee for approval shortly.

If it gets the go-ahead the plan is to start building it on the Tees Dock Middlehaven site in the coming months.

Each of the five local authorities in the Tees Valley has thrown its support behind the initiative, along with regional development agency OneNorthEast and The Arts Council.

Last night, MPs in the area said they welcomed the plans for the public artwork, which will be jointly funded through Government grants and private sector funding.

Stockton South MP Dari Taylor said anything that could bring people to the area and show the changing face of the Tees Valley should be welcomed.

Each of the five sculptures will be funded separately, but it is not known yet in which order they will be built.

It is understood an international building firm is already involved in the project, but whether the project will bring jobs to the Tees Valley has not yet been revealed.

Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond said he was excited about the plans.

"We are pushing that our piece of art will be a bridge connecting Hartlepool Marina to the Headland, so it will have a practical use, as well as a piece of public art," he said.

Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell said: "I welcome the concept and I look forward to seeing the design. I trust it will be fitting with all of the development at Middlehaven and will provide Middlesbrough with a modern look for a modern age."

However, Stockton North MP Frank Cook, while welcoming the initiative, voiced some concerns.

He said: "We have needed investment in the area for a quarter of a century, but I'm not sure whether the investment we need is in this form.

"I welcome it, but with great reservation."

Redcar and Cleveland Council's cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, Labour councillor Sheelagh Clarke, said: "We are delighted to have been offered the opportunity of a new iconic piece of art for Redcar and Cleveland and to be part of this larger project covering the region."

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: "The Angel of the North, which was built in Hartlepool, shows how iconic public art can really make a difference and can act as a further catalyst for further regeneration.

"I think it could be good for the Tees Valley."

Tees Valley Regeneration declined to comment.