PROSPECTIVE Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham will oppose fracking in the region if he is voted into the new position.

The Leigh MP said he would recommend a region-wide opposition of the controversial hydraulic fracturing process “unless and until” the evidence of the effects it may have changes.

Mr Burnham, the shadow home secretary, is hoping to become Greater Manchester’s first-ever directly-elected mayor in a vote next May.

He has already called for the region to become a “beacon of social justice” and has now set out his stance on fracking.

He said: "I have looked in detail at the fracking licences in my constituency and have seen no evidence to satisfy me that it is safe to frack in a former coalfield area or indeed anywhere.

"People have a right to know where I would stand on fracking in Greater Manchester if I was elected Mayor.

“While the decision would be for councils, my position would be to recommend a Greater Manchester-wide presumption of opposition to fracking unless and until the evidence changes.

“I have seen how states in the US such as New York have taken a stance against fracking and I think Greater Manchester should do the same.”

Responding to a recent decision by councillors in North Yorkshire to allow fracking near the village of Kirby Misperton, Mr Burnham added: "This decision in North Yorkshire has clear and worrying implications for Greater Manchester. It sets an unhelpful precedent and could bring forward plans for fracking in our communities.”

Last year, the government offered a licence to drilling firm Osprey allowing it to carry out exploratory work in an area of land covering Horwich, Blackrod, Rivington and Belmont.

The government has also earmarked the rest of Bolton as having potential for shale gas extraction — with consultation and environmental assessments now taking place.

Bolton Council has already voted to oppose fracking proposals in the borough “as a starting point”.

Mr Burnham said his priorities for Bolton and the rest of the conurbation lie away from fracking.

He said: "As Mayor, my focus would be on building the jobs of the future rather than the past.

“Fracking for fossil fuels seems to me to belong to the last century, not this one, and does not produce the quality jobs in the numbers that some have claimed.

“Instead, I want a Greater Manchester that is building the future and leading the way on renewable energy — that is where our focus should lie."