This image, from November 2017, shows derelict buildings at the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery in Staffordshire, England.Alan Tunnicliffe Photography | Moment | Getty Images

A project aiming to harness geothermal energy from disused, flooded coal mines in the northeast of England took another step forward this week after it was given planning permission for an initial testing phase.

In an announcement Monday, South Tyneside Council said the development would “draw geothermal energy from abandoned flooded mines in the former Hebburn Colliery.” The Hebburn Colliery opened in the late 18th century and shut down in 1932.

The idea is that the project will heat buildings owned by the council, which is working on the project alongside Durham University and the U.K.’s Coal Authority.

The U.K.’s abandoned mines could well prove to

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