Exclusive: 75 years of shale gas reserves found under Hartshead Pike

  • Hartshead Pike tower to be converted to hydraulic fracturing drill;
  • Wrexham-based fracking firm set to take over site at the end of this week;
  • Former Colliers’ Arms public house to become company offices.
Fracking and the future - shale gas in the UK
By Friday midday, Hartshead Pike’s tower could be obscured by well boring equipment, such as this example seen in 2014. Image by Day Donaldson (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved).

Tameside could be sitting on a goldmine of shale gas reserves which is set to reverse the borough’s Cinderella tag. Following British Geological Society surveys, most of the borough has been identified as a hotbed of shale gas. Today, East of the M60 has learnt about the discovery of further shale gas reserves under Hartshead Pike.

With the future of Cuadrilla’s developments on the Fylde Coast at a crossroads, this week’s announcement will be a boost for the UK Government’s energy minister. Fending off competition from Cuadrilla, iGas and DART Energy, the contract was won by Y Ynni Ebrill Cyntaf. The previously unknown Wrexham-based company started off as a garage and tyre fitting business in Chirk, some 42 years ago.

Since the privatisation of British Gas Corporation, the Chirk-based garage had a roaring trade in Calor Gas bottle sales. This was popular with campers. With deregulation of gas and electricity markets, Y Ynni Ebrill diversified into energy supply and distribution. They moved to offices ten minutes walk from Wrexham General station and sold their Chirk premises to TESCO.

With its recent conversion to hydraulic fracturing, it has set up home in Mossley, a scenic part of the Northern Powerhouse. Interviews will be taking in their new Fracking Division offices on Broadcarr Lane, formerly The Colliers’ Arms, till midday. The new site – unlike previous applications for fracking sites – is accessible on foot and public transport. This will be a boost for the 350 service, recently cut to every 12 minutes in the daytime. From Hurst, the drill can be accessed on foot via Lily Lanes.


Very few people were pleased with Ynn Ebrill’s plans. Firstly, for the extra noise. Secondly, traffic flows and the unsuitability of Lily Lanes and Broadcarr Lane for 44-tonne tankers. Uniting even the most pro-fracking advocates is the blight – and use of Hartshead Pike’s tower as an ‘discreet’ fracking drill. Satellite drills have been proposed for the Easter Cross, which looks out to Waterton Lane, and Oldham Edge.

Meeting at The Billy Goat public house on the third Wednesday of each month is Don’t Spike the Pike. They are an anti-fracking pressure group which has expressed concern over the Welsh energy company’s advances in Greater Manchester. Among their concerns include:

  • Use of the former Knott Hill reservoir as a draining pond;
  • The additional traffic and winter road conditions;
  • Continued unsympathetic development of Tameside and surrounding area;
  • Seismic activity, leading to more cases of the Yipps at Ashton-under-Lyne Golf Club.

Don’t Spike the Pike have also set up temporary camps on Rivington Pike, Horwich as well as Chat Moss and Werneth Low. Yaya Binks, elected leader of the pressure group, stated that: “shale gas as a transitional fuel for the future, is about permanent damage for short term profit.” She also added that:

“All the government’s talk of [Tameside] being a centre of excellence for hydraulic fracturing is bogus. There will be none of the skilled jobs that Rudd and Osborne mentioned. In fact, the licensee favours taking on the long-term unemployed, by means of Workfare programmes.”

The drill bits, will be delivered by road at midnight, with a full police escort from Seaforth Docks to Hartshead Pike via Mossley Road. Steel for the state-of-the-art drill bits and masts came from Papua New Guinea, specially sourced for its carbon neutral properties.

Community involvement

Chief Executive of Y Ynni Ebrill, Owen Gall said that, “[Y Ynni Ebrill] will be a good neighbour for the people of Ashton-under-Lyne and Mossley, investing in community projects. We have got the people of Mossley on our side by helping to reintroduce free car parking and the opening of a lido in Micklehurst.”

He has also considered sponsoring a clutch of schools in Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley and Stalybridge, in advance of Academy Status by 2020. On asking the people of Micklehurst about the forthcoming lido, they were overjoyed by Gall’s announcement.

Have your say

Do you think Y Ynni Ebrill’s involvement will be a positive step for the people of Ashton-under-Lyne and Mossley? Feel free to comment. We particularly welcome airing your views by 12 midday tomorrow.

S.V., 31 March 2016.

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