Stoke-on-Trent aims to harness energy from what is believed to be a 350 million-year-old volcano that sits beneath the city.

In a bid to combat rising fuel costs facing businesses and residents, Stoke-on-Trent City Council is planning to invest £52m in a geothermal district heating network (DHN).

Just two miles beneath the city, there is a layer of hot rocks that can heat water to over 100C, the Stoke Sentential reports.

DHN will bring the heated water to the surface before transferring the heat into clean water.

Professor Peter Styles, from Keele University, explained the volcano left behind unstable isotopes that are thought to be generating the heat.

"With deep geothermal, you need a particular kind of geology, with rocks that are at a higher temperature than normal. But as you need to be able to extract the heat through water, you also need permeable rocks," he said.

"It's a bit like having a hot water bottle in the ground. In this country, there has been more interest in exploiting the higher temperatures seen in granite moorland, but the trouble with that is that it isn't where people live.

"If you look at industrial cities, such as Stoke-on-Trent, Sheffield or Newcastle-upon-Tyne, they all sit on coalfields, so that would appear a more feasible way of exploiting geothermal."

Should plans go ahead, work will begin in 2016 and it is due to be completed by March 2019.