The Mayor of the West of England, Dan Norris, wants to heat thousands of homes with renewable energy using flooded mines.

“I love the idea that coal mines could be repurposed to provide the clean energy of the future - it’s coming full circle”, says Mayor Dan Norris, who comes from a mining family himself.

Announcing a major £1.6 million study backed by the Coal Authority and Historic England, the Mayor explains how almost a quarter of the region's homes sit above once thriving coal mines, now flooded with water.

Using heat pumps, the water - which is naturally warmed by the earth - could heat homes across the region.

There is the potential to heat 100,000-plus homes in the West, according to the regional Mayor Dan Norris, as well as other buildings like schools, hospitals and offices, through regional heat networks.

The Mayor’s study will now map the mine areas which have the greatest potential heat resource.

In the Shadow of the Radstock Wheel the launch of the Mayor’s Heat from Mines study will take place in the Radstock Museum, with local people, representatives from the Coal Authority, and a leading energy company with plans to build a West of England heat network.

The idea is being welcomed by locals including former miner and Chairman of Somerset Miners Welfare Trust, Bryn Hawkins who is a guest of honour at the event. Bryn worked in the pits, as did his father and grandfather.

He is right behind the plan to harness energy from mines that were such a crucial part of the fabric of life in Radstock - once again. He said: “When the pits shut in 1973, my dad's generation were devastated. They knew their way of life would never be the same again.

"If we can tap into those very same pits and start generating energy from them again, that would be absolutely fantastic.

"I've always said it's really important the Somerset coal mines must never be forgotten. This could be a great way of helping us celebrate an important part of our regional and national heritage in a sustainable way."

Gareth Farr, Head of Heat at the Coal Authority said: "The Coal Authority is committed to facilitating mine water heat networks across Great Britain.

"We hope that the industrial heritage of coal mining in the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority will also be able to support mine water heat networks in the future."

Alex Davies-Jones MP, who heads up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coalfield Communities, said: "As an MP for a coalfield constituency, as well as being the daughter and granddaughter of miners, I'm delighted by the prospect of former coal mines once again being used to generate power and create jobs.

"Just as coal mining was integral to Britain's industrial revolution, with the right policies and investment, coalfield communities have the potential to be at the forefront of a 21st century technological revolution.

"It is great to see the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, along with many other parts of the country, taking steps to turn this potential into reality."

Mayor Dan Norris added: “Radstock has a proud mining heritage so I can think of no better place to launch this plan. The synergy is fantastic that mines that contributed to CO2 emissions could now hold the key to clean, green energy. Generating home-grown energy also gives us the chance of cheaper bills, new high paid jobs and energy security.

“Heat from mines has national, and possibly global, implications too. With many millions of people living above former coalfields right across the country, the potential for mine water heat could be huge.

"The climate crisis is the biggest challenge we face as a region, as a nation and world. This is a real opportunity to explore an innovative way to heat our homes.”

There are 100-plus coal mines in and around the Somerset Coalfield and South Glos areas where coal was mined in the West of England from the 15th century through to 1973, when the last pit closed.