A MAJOR new campaign is being launched on Monday to try to stop people illegally dumping rubbish.

Billboards will be posted along Rochdale Road, Bury and at the junction of Bury New Road/Apian Way, Prestwich urging locals to 'Stop the Drop'.

People are being asked to snitch on anyone they find dumping sofas, mattresses, fridges and other large items of rubbish after research revealed that cleaning up this junk is costing North West council taxpayers nearly £1.5million per year.

In a major national campaign organised by Keep Britain Tidy, people are being asked to ring a hotline number and report on those they catch fly-tipping.

Councils and the Environment Agency will then spring into action and either try to catch them red-handed or set up a trap to get them next time. Backed by the poster campaign, which will also be seen on buses across the North West, the drive is called 'Don't turn a blind eye'.

The posters feature a woman peeking through her window as two men dump junk by the roadside.

"The main reason people fly-tip rubbish is because they don't think they'll ever get caught and the fact that only one-fifth of councils in the region ever prosecute anyone for it means at present they're probably right " said Joanne Whitaker, regional director of Keep Britain Tidy.

"But with the public's help, this campaign will make sure they get the message that someone's watching them and that if they do it, they're sure to suffer the consequences."

Keep Britain Tidy spoke to 159 councils and 390 landowners, including the National Farmers Union, across the UK to see just how prevalent fly-tipping has become.

Nearly 70 per cent of North West councils reckon they have a significant or major problem and received over 33,000 complaints across the region about it last year.

Other land owners like British Waterways and Network Rail are also suffering.

But perhaps the biggest headache is faced by the UK's cash-strapped farmers -- 95 per cent them had to clear up fly-tipping last year and on average they forked out £1,000 each to remove other people's rubbish.

Ms Whitaker added: "It may sound like a desperate measure to have to get people to 'shop' fly-tippers but that's the only way we're going to solve the problem.

"We must as a society show that we won't accept it and report those people we see doing it."

The tip-off hotline number is 0845 3000 630.