CONSERVATIVE MP Chris Green said he would be "sceptical" about any attempts to carry out fracking in Bolton.

The recently-elected member for Bolton West faced a grilling from residents at a meeting organised by the protest group Bolton Against Fracking.

Mr Green told the audience on Thursday evening that fracking had a "place in the general energy mix", but said it was the locations that were of concern to him.

Labour-controlled Bolton Council has vowed to oppose any applications for fracking in the town and members have called on Mr Green to clarify his stance on the issue. The pledge by leader Cllr Cliff Morris came at Wednesday's full council meeting, and followed an announcement by the government that tests will be carried out in the borough to find suitable locations for fracking.

Parts of Smithills, Horwich, Blackrod and Astley Bridge are included in the plan.

This has placed Mr Green in a difficult position, balancing vocal opposition from constituents with his party's vow to explore drilling for shale gas as an energy option.

He said: "I believe fracking has a place, the question that I'm most concerned with is where it is suitable.

"Not everywhere is, and the reaction to the tremors in Blackpool when Quadrilla were drilling shows the UK has a far more cautious approach to the fracking than the US. I'm very sceptical that fracking is suitable in Bolton West or more widely in the area.

"When specific plans and proposals come in, I will look at them and make decisions on each one then."

Mr Green was also quizzed over plans that planning approval for fracking could be taken out of local authorities' hands if 16 weeks pass with no decision made.

He said: "I would expect Bolton Council to go through the right processes to deal with the application and if it needs more than 16 weeks to deal with it, that is good reason why it should not happen as there presumably be too many risks."

Christopher Peacock, a former Labour councillor who lives in Bolton West, was unconvinced by Mr Green's answers.

He said: "I was disappointed with him as he is sitting on the fence. He is trying to take a balanced position, which I can understand, but he misjudged the views of those in the room.

"They wanted him to say 'fracking is bad, full stop'."

A licence will be offered to the firm Osprey to perform the exploratory tests in Bolton, with the government also having earmarked the whole of the rest of the borough as having the potential for shale gas extraction.